ABXY is pleased to announce Reality Show a solo exhibition by Zeehan Wazed. Reality Show marks the artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. It will be on view from November 14 – January 15, 2020. For this exhibition, Wazed presents new work in painting, sculpture, and creative new media, including a series of paintings activated by Augmented Reality.
Like déjà vu through an Instagram filter, the works in this exhibition summon the suspicion we’ve seen them before in a dream (or was it on screen?) In each piece, Wazed blends fact and fiction, figuration and abstraction, fantasy and nightmare to create images that appear like snapshots of the contemporary subconscious. On this psychic battleground, hyper-realistic facts and figures sourced from digital news media burst, stretch, and tunnel through glowing tangles of geometric abstraction. Forest fires, warheads, walls, prescription pills, omnipotent eyeballs, creatures now extinct, robots, rubble and rising tides materialize out of rainbow reverie like involuntary hallucinations. What’s uncanny, in fact, is how much of this isn’t a dream.
In Reality Show, the mercury rises as stakes surge to mythological proportion. Large scale paintings calligraphically connect disparate, yet familiar scenes within canvasses composed like tattooed tapestries. In works like “Hope Floats,” a colossal arm aims a loaded gun towards an innocent victim, while in miniature below an endangered whale rescues a sleeping child from deportation. By juxtaposing reality’s chilling likeness to nightmare with such an impossibly peaceful vision of an actual “Dreamer,” Wazed’s work effectively authenticates the dreadful absurdity of contemporary life. Here - recast in galactic dreamscape - images ripped from the headlines memorialize a world on fire and our resultant anxiety at once. Exposing our inner and outer realities as a contradiction in terms, the artist’s luminous, high-contrast visual language awakens our humanity from the dissociative lullaby of digital media and unmasks the communal isolation produced by its ambient interventions into contemporary life. In an age when the Internet weaves the emperors’ clothes and only the children cry out in disbelief, Wazed’s satirical brand of cyber surrealism reports that if we are collectively unconscious of anything today, it is each other.
Recurring motifs such as hands, eyes, worlds, and wormholes explore themes of individual and collective agency in the human experience at large. In works like “Dating App,” two impressionistically rendered robot hands - one black and one white - extend from opposite corners of the frame. Through vibrant swirls of spray paint and glossy, polychrome cubes in free fall, they reach towards a central, nearly life-like rose. Devoid any human figure, this scene of robotic romance implies a future of love that does not include us at all. By applying historically dissonant modes of painting to distinguish organic from technological matter, the artist symbolizes the mortal difference between emotional and artificial intelligence. As they attempt to connect, these programmed protagonists act out an innate desire for physical touch, but to what end? Unburdened by biology, the survival of our synthetic representation does not require our natural capacity for compassion. Revealing his subjects as hollow imitations of evolutionary tenderness, with “Dating App,” Wazed relates humanity’s unique emotional experience to our collective survival. In the paradoxical euphemism characteristic of Reality Show, the artist suggests and that as we slip from each other’s grasp, so too slips control of our common future.
With this exhibition Wazed will also debut “Screen Grab,” the first live action Augmented Reality short film. A collaboration between the artist and filmmaker Ambrose Eng, “Screen Grab” stars actress Teresa Ting and tells the story of a nosy couple wandering into the gallery after hours. Shot on Alexa mini using vintage Zeiss lenses, the film was then embedded into a series of paintings within Reality Show. Using the ARTIVIVE app, by scanning a painting in this series with the gallery’s iPad, visitors will be able to unlock the film, which unfolds in two-minute clips across four separate canvasses. On screen, the paintings in “Screen Grab” will appear to come to life.
This exhibition will also include a series of small sculptures in the form hand-painted iPhones.