ART POLITICS AND REVOLUTION: THE SHAMANIC PRACTICE OF DRAWING THE HORROR
NAZIR TANBOULI, STUDIO 75 FROM 25 NOV – 25 DEC.
the exhibition EYE CANDY by Egyptian born, London based Nazir Tanbouli presents very violent and disturbing themes, such as street battles, interrogations, personal violence and nightmarish monsters, within a palette which is very luscious, candy coloured and bright.
Tanbouli is very influenced by Mexican and Aztec imagery, from the copal wood carvings sometimes known as alebrijes to the Aztec pictographs and masks. He is particularly interested in the ritualistic and shamanistic aspects of this kind of work, and how it belongs to the societies in which it’s made. It is not Mexican or Aztec culture itself which has inspired the artist, but a sense of bringing together non-Western approaches to art that can be employed in making sense of the contemporary world which in Tanbouli’s case is present-day London, where he lives, and the wider world, which he accesses through the media.
New reports of the Arab Spring and the street fighting, the London riots, the daily wash of news horror stories, all make their way into Tanbouli’s work. Watching his home town of Alexandria erupt in revolution, reading his friends’ posting on Facebook, was almost too much for the exile to bear and he dealt with it in his own way – through drawing and painting.
The personal is political for Tanbouli. In a previous piece, Take 7, (2010) he imagined his life story as a film, and created the storyboard for it as a series of stark black-and-white screen prints, published in 2011 as SELF, an expressionistic, wordless graphic autobiography that channels Albert Camus, Frank Miller and Robert Weine.
The principal works in EYE CANDY, the collections Coloured Label and Candy Coloured Tragedies, together with the large painting CIVILIANS fool the eye with their colourful surfaces, cooly disguising the horrible things they portray. And yet the works are homeopathic, shamanic. Candy for the eye, food for the brain and rejuvenation for the soul.