MUHANNED CADER: I See Sea

When 17 Oct 2019 - 14 Dec 2019
Where Talwar Gallery
108 East 16 Street
New York, NY 10003
United States
Enquiry 212.673.3096

Talwar Gallery is pleased to present I See Sea, an exhibition of new works by Muhanned Cader.

In I See Sea, Cader turns his meditative, playful vision towards the ocean. Building on his previous engagement with land and landscape, Cader’s latest works probe the far less stable, ever-changing face of the sea – long held as point of fascination, a force of sublime and unpredictable power for artists and non-artists alike. Spanning various media – from delicately-rendered acrylic painting, to darker, more mysterious charcoal drawings – the series in I See Sea share a close, intimate scale. Refusing the vast, all-encompassing vision so familiar from traditional seascapes, these works allow only glimpses of the sea – iridescent yet fragmented, each framed within unexpected, idiosyncratic shapes. Part-geometric, part-organic, these hybrid shapes restrict our view in much the same way that new development along the coast in Cader’s native Sri Lanka restricts access to the ocean – hinting at that which unfolds beyond. Yet these shapes are more than just frames; with their unpredictable contours, they begin to take on a presence of their own. These are, indeed, as much “Portraits of the Sea” as seascapes, and they allude to the many meanings the ocean can hold – political border, insurmountable obstacle, symbol of escape. The ocean’s refusal to be contained, its unpredictability, becomes palpable in these series, summarizing the volatile political geography of Sri Lanka in the past decades.

The fleeting glimpse of a boat, moreover, reminds us that this unknowing is also the plight of so many others worldwide, who have traded in the precarity of life at home for the ocean’s uncertainties. Playing at the shoreline between what is seen and what is beyond sight, I See Sea offers a vision of the ocean that is necessarily partial, where imagination – or hope – must fill in the negative spaces between what can be known.

Cader’s work emerges from a practice that is experimental and open-ended – one that investigates, insistently yet without a rigid, predetermined agenda, the norms that shape the visual world. Working iteratively, he intervenes into Western artistic traditions, like the picturesque landscape, that favor the singular, totalizing view. Cader utilizes his base in Sri Lanka to press back on these and other colonial legacies that continue to shape life there, casting an oblique light on the West’s insatiable need for control, possession, and mastery. His series instead unfold sensuously, associatively, and often reveal surprising subtleties – the play of sun across water, the formal rhymes within the pages of a magazine – that go unattended in daily life. His collages quietly, rhythmically, but with razor-sharp precision undo the containment of the rectangular frame, while his paintings bring considerations of presence and absence to larger, human scale. Intimate and exquisitely rendered, Cader always retains an element of the handmade – making vivid the limitations as well the power of the human presence within the natural world.

Muhanned Cader was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1966, where he currently lives and works. He earned his Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1994. Since then, he has participated in several international projects. His work has been featured at the 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT) at Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia; 1st Singapore Biennale; Burger Collection, Hong Kong; 1st Lahore Biennale, Pakistan; Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh; Devi Art Foundation, India; 2nd Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kochi, India; Herbert Johnson Museum at Cornell University, New York and Nasher Museum at Duke University, North Carolina.

Image courtesy of the event organizer.

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