ONE is based in Karachi, Pakistan. Amin Gulgee’s latest exhibition, Walking On The Moon,recently concluded at Wei-Ling Contemporary, The Gardens Mall. It is a series of breathtaking “love letters” to the World.
The other, Oliviero Rainaldi, is an Italian marvel whose human figures cast in bronze, plaster and glass just make you want to weep in reverence. TWINS: Works by Oliviero Rainaldi is currently being showcased at the Twin Towers. He pens: “I was born a twin, like my mother and grandmother. I dedicate this exhibit to my ancestors and to the Twin Towers of Kuala Lumpur, which attracted me at first glance.”
Some of Amin’s works can be seen at Mandarin Oriental’s pop-up restaurant, Aziamendi 88, until October 30. His cast aluminium Sun Dried Heads 1 — The Wreath in particular, is hypnotic. It is a work you can circle a hundred times and still discover new things each time. And repeating what was immediately observed when faced with his bronze constructions: it’s true what they say, that beauty depends very much on what we agree it to be.
Amin’s works combine a deep artistic skill and astuteness, elegant pieces which carry within them the artist’s wonderfully warped mind, his love poems to the world.
Amin’s larger-than-life predominantly burnished bronze designs are brutally beautiful. The engravings on each one, of calligraphic verses, lend the works supreme elegance. Me in the Matrix, as the artist almost gleefully divulges, “hacked 89 times: nose, chin, eyes, the whole face” makes you curious what kind of incubuses he has. The work is utterly brilliant and completely crazy. His Chapati series are whimsical and serious, tortuously folded copper which appear heavy and paper-like.
Amin reminds us that visual content is a thing without limits, that while they may very well be both personal and mythopoeic, the works are also hugely accessible. When was the last time you heard an artist say of his works, “Please don’t be afraid to touch the sculptures and get a feel of what they’re about”? The artist himself is baroque-like and in five minutes, makes you feel like long-lost best friends. Very much like his sculptures, Amin draws you in with unbridled enthusiasm for the things he has done and is going to do.
His art gallery in Karachi is constantly evolving, curating impelling shows for both local and international artists. For someone so extraordinarily accomplished, he possesses no airs. He, is, after all, the son of Ismail Gulgee, one of Pakistan’s most gifted painters. Walking on the Moon itself is a beatific title, revealing Amin’s own feelings of wonder. His works has this sense of permanence in an adamantine way that’s so acutely beguiling, it becomes that rabbit hole you just couldn’t keep away from.
Oliviero Rainaldi’s opening of TWINS, meanwhile, was opulent, attended by the who’s who of Malaysia’s society elite. Be that as it may, none came even close to rival his works. Beautifully spaced to give each sculpture and painting pivotal breathing space so as not to overwhelm too much, Rainaldi’s creations goad, calling out to you in urgent whispers.
As expressed by curator Badrolhisham Mohamad Tahir: “In all, his drawings, paintings and sculptures, Oliviero Rainaldi concentrates on the human figure, its body language and gestures. He explores fundamental questions of human existence and their connections to religion and philosophy. Rainaldi’s choice of materials reflects the entire range of his expression. Rainaldi loves the miracle of light. Faces are made only readable by the play of light over the absolutely white ground. This is the best example of his minimalist emphasis on its material presence by the use of light”.
2001 Le Dejeuner Sur Le Blune is of a figure prostrating, its head touching the ground. In 2013 Caduti, the magnificent bronze carving sits quietly on a plinth. Adjacent, 2007 polyptych charcoal on wood Conversazioni are of lovers in deep communion. Battesami Umani, the artist’s 2014 bronze sculpture of a figure standing on its head simply stuns. The whole show is a dance, perfectly choreographed, flawless in execution. And this jumped into mind instantaneously: Mavin Khoo’s wondrous ZfinMalta Dance Ensemble’s debut in Kuala Lumpur at the Temple of Fine Arts recently.
Je Tiens la Reine, a contemporary adaptation of Mallarme’s 1876 L’Apres-midi-d’un Faune and Debussy’s 1894 Prelude a L’Apres-midi d’un Faune presented by Pusaka is Rainaldi’s sculptures come to life. From the incredibly sophisticated jumps, swirls and tortured writhing of these nymph-spirits to the scalpel sharp formations, the show was mind-pummeling.
Similarly, Rainaldi’s Twins gives us a glimpse into an alternate universe where everything smoulders, a visual witchery of his characters tearing feverishly at each other the moment the lights go off.
In these immortal lines of Bob Dylan’s Visions Of Johanna, from his 1966 album, Blonde on Blonde:
“In the empty lot where the ladies play blindman’s bluff with the key chain
And the all-night girls they whisper of escapades out on the D-train
We can hear the night watchman click his flashlight
Ask himself if it’s him or them that’s really insane
Louise she’s all right she’s just near
She’s delicate and seems like the mirror
But she just makes it all too concise and too clear
That Johanna’s not here
The ghost of electricity howls in the bones of her face
Where these visions of Johanna have now taken my place.”
Walking on the Moon and TWINS are both the same spiritual love song. It’s unavoidable when you pitch beauty against beauty. It is la douleur exquise, the exquisite pain of longing for someone-something so intense it shatters Worlds.
– October 13, 2015 @ 5:31pm