Born in Pakistan
Lives and works in Sydney
The Distance Between Us
31 October — 16 November 2019
Through the unavoidable consequences of living—memories, ideas and experiences come in to being. The unique neurological strata of our thoughts—created from our earliest until our last—is a defining aspect of the ‘individual’.
We live in a contemporary world with competing ideologies of nationalism, globalisation and the ever-present religious dissension—the hallmarks of our time. Throughout the globe, physical country borders are in a state of flux, coupled with the continual rise of the virtual world. Humanity can be forgiven for its crisis of identity and a seemingly endless search for the meaning to our existence.
It’s against this backdrop that Sydney based artist, Mehwish Iqbal’s delicate reflections of a life of contradictory experiences, provide a torch-lit path in an ever more complicated world. Mehwish grew up in the small city of Sangla Hill in Pakistan—a country that, at times, struggles with inherent freedoms—particularly for women. Yet, it is from this place that her voice has become strong and direct. Beyond the ephemeral experience of Iqbal’s work, her thematic discourse has struck a chord throughout the broader art world. A recent exhibition in New York and recognition from major private and institutional collections has built momentum for the artist.
There is a delicate monumentality that pervades the artist's first exhibition at Nanda\Hobbs, titled The Distance Between Us. Iqbal’s Intricately crafted works speak of the stories of her childhood; her relationship with her mother and of being a mother herself in a different culture from that of her birth. Layers of text embroidered and woven through translucent drawings and prints float hypnotically throughout the picture plane. For the audience, this dreamlike state we are invited to enter is the artist's deeply personal world.
The experience of drilling through the layers of Mehwish’s personal history is a process that connects us with the fragments of our own lives—often buried in the detritus of living. Culturally, our journey may be very different from Iqbal’s, yet, the memory fragments—the touch of a mother’s hand; the fleeting moment from a dream; the memory of a story, are reminiscent of our own. To look for the literal in Iqbal’s world is to misinterpret the intention. The real reading comes from the experience of reaching into the artist's soul and being confronted with the story of your own existence.
Video by Brianna Roberts