A House Without Walls

Curated by Haseeb Ullah Zafar

Ahsan Memon & Suleman Faisal

in collaboration with  T2F & The Gallery T2F

June 17 – June 30, 2022

Curatorial note

Taking stock of his surroundings leads Faisal to introspectively ruminate on those household objects that have played an essential role in his upbringing. He says of these tools, these implements, these machines, “they were always around, shaping my environment and me”. These objects are not his, in the common sense of the word but by being inexplicably linked to his being as familial keepsakes, they belong to him. Whether it be dowry gifts such as his mother’s sewing machine or the state-issued revolver belonging to his father, the artist credits these objects as being used to provide for him and his siblings. So to the artist, these and other items that are part of the display hold significant meaning and nostalgic connotations truly emblematic of home. Within these contrasting pairs, where some are implements of relaxation and others are tools of the trade, where some are tools of creation while others are purposefully built to cause destruction, the common thread that emerges is that they are a means to serve and protect. Memon’s practice draws his audience in, enraptured they ponder the meaning of the objects before them. Whereas his show-mate focuses on intrapersonal symbolism and nostalgic attachment, at first glance Memon’s objects do not betray their deep significance and seem removed from his personal narrative. However, he sees these as symbolic of his ideas around displacement and nostalgia, of the feeling that one is not privileged to have a place to call home, of always being on the road. A piece of bent rebar here, a broken slab of concrete there, a sheet of rust metal, all of these supposedly long-lasting items having been discarded, once lost to the ravages of time, are now meticulously recreated. These specific items are portals through which the artist reflects on a home that is no longer there and the one he hopes to build in the future. To him, this is about the people, the relationships, the unforgettable occasions, those particular places, which cannot be erased from our minds regardless of the passage of time, which cumulatively make a house into a home. The orange hues of Faisal’s plexiglass contrast nicely with Memon’s pairings of hyper realistically painted resin sculptures and grayscale graphite drawings as these disparate yet similar art practices come together. Each artist in their own way goes about navigating the intricacies of what home means to them, and how the objects that they have chosen to replicate play an essential role within the building of this physical and metaphorical space. Going far beyond their original purpose, these mass-produced items form particular associations for the artists and cause us to reflect on the similar associations we form in our own lives. For the viewer, the only thing left to do is to shun completely or embrace entirely these objects, analyzing the innate human need to form linkages with the things we find around us and reflect on what impact they have in making their home, a home in comparison to the ones they see laid out in front of them. The artists ask us to ponder, “what is a home without the items, memories and lived experiences that make it such?” In the abundance of things that we find in our surroundings, some of them belong to us but also don’t, as everything on this pale dot is bound to fade as the things, places and moments that give them meaning also are swallowed by time.

Ahsan Memon

Artist Statement

My work stems from my understanding of themes of nostalgia and displacement. The objects that I choose to replicate could be mistaken for commonplace and banal but to me they symbolize home. These objects that I meticulously recreate are my attempt at preserving a memory, a personal memoir that lies within a camouflage of the seemingly mundane and is rendered into a mere illusion of reality. Another way to understand my practice and the pieces in front of you would be to think of them as emotional baggage that infiltrates the subconscious such that a glimpse of it can transport you thousands of miles away into a place stuck in between time itself. A piece of bent rebar, or a slab of tiled flooring amidst a pile of rubble might seem to be just rubbish but to me, each object forms a significant association in the brain. For many people, nostalgia is an amalgamation of sounds and images of certain people, particular places, significant relationships, and memorable occasions that we cannot wipe from our minds. I choose to focus on how nostalgia arrives into our consciousness embodied in the objects that capture my imagination. They, to me, are remnants of a bygone age and yet I am infinitely intrigued by how they can affect the present so deeply. This is what I hope for my audience to experience also, to reflect on how we are connected to these objects and think as to which objects move them.

About Ahsan

Ahsan Memon (born 1989) is an art practitioner and educator currently based in Lahore, Pakistan. He completed his BFA from the National College of Arts, Lahore in 2016 where he was awarded a Distinction for his efforts. Ahsan then went on to pursue and complete his MA in Visual Arts from the National College of Arts, Lahore in 2019. Since graduating he has consistently exhibited his works both nationally and internationally. Select exhibitions of Ahsan’s include Witness organized as part of Karachi Biennale 01 in 2017, Cross Borders curated by Quddus Mirza at the Swiss Ambassador’s Residence, Islamabad in 2018, and A Site for Sight, a collateral event of the Lahore Biennale 02 in 2019. Ahsan has had the opportunity to take part in various art residencies, such as the ISL Artist Residency and the Pioneer Art Residency both curated by the Canvas Gallery, Karachi in 2017 and Taaza Tareen 8 artist in residency at Vasl Artists’ Association, Karachi in 2016. He has also been the recipient of various prestigious awards such as the Young Artist Award in the annual exhibition About Time organized at Alhamra Art Gallery, Lahore in 2015 and was the Runner Up in the Benazir Bhutto Painting Competition at the Mehran Arts Council, Larkana in 2008.Ahsan is currently a visiting faculty in the Department of Fine Arts at the Punjab University College of Art and Design, Lahore. His work is part of many notable art collections in Pakistan.

Suleman Faisal

Artist Statement

For this show, I dove deep into my previous practice in an effort to better comprehend why I am transfixed by the objects that so intrigue me. Reflection on my life thus far, causes me to see it as an accumulation of lived experiences too numerous to list, but in this gamut of images that flash up in memories, certain objects hold centre stage. While making this new body of work I desired to go beyond my initial fascination with tools that I have harboured since my earliest years. I wanted, in particular, to reflect on what these objects mean to me, context and all. These objects that I am now making through my artistic practice are deeply personal, they don’t belong to me but rather are mainstays of the home I was brought up in. Belonging to my parents they hold significant importance and emotional attachment to my person. As I saw these things day in and day out they were always present. More than this however these objects are emblematic of the continuous role of my parents in providing for me and my siblings. Looking closely at the pairs of contrasting objects, the audience will notice that some are masculine while others have a feminine tinge to them. Some could be construed as constructive while others destructive, some are tools for relaxation and pleasure while others have an air of everyday use about them. As I recreate these actual objects in orange plexiglass, enclosing them and framing them in these transparent boxes; I wish to at once protect these delicate recreations from the passing of time and bring to the forefront the sense of nostalgia that they evoke in me. The orange hues to me indicate a sense of warmth and happiness. In this way, I hope that the viewers too will see a link between these familial keepsakes and the ones that hold importance to themselves, and reflect on how these objects mould us and help us form associations with the world around us and in effect, colour our understanding and perception.

About Suleman

Suleman Faisal (born 1991) is a visual artist and educator currently based in Lahore, Pakistan. He completed his BFA from the National College of Arts, Lahore in 2017 where he was awarded a Distinction for his efforts. Through his interdisciplinary art practice, he applies learned sculptural techniques to make experiential installations, create mammoth automatons, stage memorable performance art, and produce thought-provoking videos. Select exhibitions of Suleman’s include For the Wicked and the Valiant at O Art Space, Lahore in 2021, A Site for the Sight collateral of the Lahore Biennale 02 in 2020, Microcosm II at AAN Gandhara Art Space, Karachi in2018, Transition in Time at the Zahoor ul Akhlaq Gallery, Lahore in 2018, Four Rooms collateral of the Lahore Biennale 01 at PILAC in 2018, and Beneath the Surface at Canvas Gallery, Karachi in 2017. He has also had the opportunity to be the Taaza Tareen 12 Artist in Residence at Vasl Artists’ Association, Karachi in 2020, and Pioneer Cement Factory Residency curated by Sameera Raja. In 2020, Suleman was awarded the Vasl – Khurram Kasim Art Foundation research grant to produce a solo exhibition at Canvas Gallery, titled Orange Sisyphus the exhibition was held in Spring 2021. Suleman was also commissioned by Platform Asia to produce work for the online project_homing_in curated by Zena Khan and Chloe Hodge. His work is a part of many notable art collections in Pakistan.

Haseeb Ullah Zafar

About Haseeb

Haseeb Ullah Zafar (He/Him) is a curator, researcher, writer, producer, activist and artist currently based in Lahore, Pakistan. Haseeb holds an MA in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art, London and a BFA in visual arts from the National College of Arts, Lahore. His interests lie in investigating the intricacies of born-digital artistic practices and the curator’s role within the labyrinthine socio-cultural context of the Internet. In particular, he explores the visual art form of ‘Internet Memes’, an electronic cultural currency propagated by humans in their millions on a daily basis, which are being displayed with increasing frequency within physical spaces. He unpacks the value structures involved in their commissioning, exhibiting, and collecting within the art ecosphere. Alongside this Haseeb works on maintaining an active art practice through which he explores pertinent themes and topics that resonate with him. He is also one of seven co-curators who commissioned www.empathyloading.com a transdisciplinary online art project inquiring into affective relationships between humans and networked non-humans developed by students from the MA Curating Contemporary Art Programme Graduate Projects, Royal College of Art in partnership with Further field. He is currently working as the curatorial assistant for the Ambiance Boutique Art Hotels and as an independent curator on various projects.