Aicon Contemporary is pleased to present Contained, a solo exhibition of works by Karachi-based visual artist Seher Naveed. Contained examines the ambiguous relationship between landscape and object. The ubiquitous geometric patterns of urban settings, particularly in the artist's hometown of Karachi, Pakistan, inform Naveed’s artistic practice. A pertinent indicator of Karachi's societal aspirations is its architecture, a fundamental marker that has emerged in Naveed's work within recent years. The artist has expanded her practice to reflect the illuminating architectural details of a complex city whose political instability has adversely impacted its topography.
The symbolism of walls, gates, fences - tactile barriers that divide disparate socio-economic groups - permeates through the artist's work. Elaborate gates and fences prevalent throughout Karachi residences are adorned with spikes and security cameras, signifying the wealthy class's shields from rampant violence in a city of 16 million. Naveed’s Contraption series studies the gates observed, spanning those with ornate designs to those with explicit utilitarian and defensive purposes. Through metal spikes and barbed wire, the series portrays a threatening and dissociative sentiment. A sense of mystery surrounds those who are allowed in and those excluded from protection. The barriers created by shipping containers, gates, and walls present several dualities: inside/outside, safety/danger, threat/protection.
Class and social divides determine those left outside and those granted security. It begs the question; what threat do those on the outside pose-and perhaps more importantly- what would happen if these barriers were breached and there was no distinct separation? Who would be capable of protecting themselves, and who requires protection?
Within Naveed's Tip series, her sculptures present an obstruction in the landscape navigated by their observers. The Tips peak from the ground, simultaneously emerging and retreating from our space, and alluding to the presence of something greater. While her painted surfaces evoke Sol Lewitt and the color theory of Josef Albers, a closer inspection reveals a more ominous and threatening nature. At the forefront of the normalization of extensive security systems and defenses integral to Karachi's architecture are the profound societal implications.
Seher Naveed (b. 1984) is the head of the Department of Fine Arts at the Indus Valley School of Art & Architecture, where she trained as an undergraduate. She attended Central St. Martins in London for her postgraduate studies. The artist lives and works in Karachi, Pakistan.