American-Pakistani artist Simeen Farhat’s work is always inspired by literature. Her latest exhibition, “Word Chimes: Meaning in Movements” features resin sculptures that are based on her favourite Urdu, Persian, Arabic, German and English poems. Each sculpture is composed of letters, words and phrases created from dyed cast resin; but these are not arranged in sentences that can be read. Instead they are intertwined to form translucent, cloud-like abstract arrangements, suspended from the ceiling like wind chimes.
In many of the works, the words from the poems are mingled with the artist’s own writings expressing her personal feelings and concerns. Rather than using the words to express specific ideas and thoughts, the artist has thus created a language of garbled letters and sentences to go beyond the meaning of words and communicate on another level with the world around her and within her. The graceful curves of the letters, and the interplay of form and shadow, positive and negative space in the compositions lend the works a poetic quality, inviting viewers to step past the chaos and discover the sense within them.
“Language is nothing but shapes of sense and nonsense, fighting and complementing each other like two colours. My work is a site of struggle, of a battle of logical and illogical phrases. It is not simply abstract decoration, or an extension of Islamic calligraphy, but a search for sense and possibilities amid the distortion and absurdity. I am concerned by the way we sometimes find ourselves lost in the shapes and lines of language while trying to make sense of things that make no sense and vice versa. I make art that shows the convolution of form, so that we can trace the chaos into sense. My sculptures reflect life as it really is, in a world that does not make sense. Creating them is my way of staying afloat and being calm in a world of suffering and chaos,” Farhat says.
Jyoti Kalsi is an arts-enthusiast based in Dubai.
“Word Chimes: Meaning in Movements” will run at XVA Gallery in the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, Bur Dubai, until January 24.