raha 3.jpg

AREA 52 is pleased to present EVOLVING/DISSOLVING, an exhibition that brings together the work of Raha Rastifard and Sonny Sanjay Vadgama. 


At the centre of this exhibition are the artists' reflections on meanings and patterns of the past in relation to the present, which emerge in their work in two different but related narratives about contemporary practice. In the works of the two artists broad chunks of time and history converge: Vadgama, using cutting-edge technology that aims to explore classical Western themes drawn from the philosophy and ethics of Ancient Greece; Rastifard, appropriating signifiers from the (so-called) cultural tradition of the Middle East and Persia to subject them to his own perception and psychological dimension. The resulting link between past and present is not at all linear; it is a fluid and therefore difficult to "condense" expression of paradoxes and tensions, or of subjectivity and lyricism. 


These artists chart their own path on this common journey. Vadgama relentlessly mines and successfully breaks down the boundary between chaos and order; construction and destruction, revealing the duality of our nature, societies, civilisation and progress.  He points to the limitations of physical strength and the unlimited potential of human thought; to the ambivalent yet complementary relationship between power and human frailty, mastering such a relationship to explore the controversial dynamics governing 'living systems' beyond the body and mind - such as the social and the urban. By focusing on an eruption of forms that blend with both figurativism and abstraction, Vadgama addresses the immanent relationship between the human entity as a political space and the city as a locus of identity.

Rastifard dilutes reality, dreams and fantasy to create a mixture with which she inscribes her memories and psychological states on paper. Through symbols of her native country's heritage, - such as calligraphy and Sufi dress - Rastifard digresses from the autobiographical nature of such an inscription. As a result, his highly emotive and expressive art traverses, with exquisite delicacy, both the stormy waters of personal experience and the turbulent ocean of the history of that geographical area that is now called Iran. By using or referring to materials and processes long associated with the vernacular and craftsmanship, such as dyeing, weaving and textiles, Rastifard evokes those critical questions that the negotiation of national memory and individual discernment entail.
Finally, while Vadgama's work evolves from an intellectual approach in a personal direction, Rastifard engages with the same intention, but in a contrary movement. 


Indeed, Vadgama's interest and experience in sculpture manifests itself in many ways in his work. For example, while he explores the transition from a state of tension to that of weakness peculiar to the limbs of the body, Vadgama allows the moving image to bear the weight of sculptural expression. Moreover, his way of conveying classical theoretical constructs through physicality, extreme emotions and through states of alertness - such as those of natural calamities, civic threats or war attacks - presents us with elements of reverie, the uncanny and the surrealism typical of Rastifard's work. 

While Rastifard's use of text is a way of channelling the frenzy of emotions; of bringing them back to order; of making the logical and ancestral act of writing into a process of organising the random. For her, the poetic constructions and revelations generate patterns from the amorphous ideas that populate the imagination of each individual. Like Vadgama, she faces the hard task of regulating chaos, inevitably encountering an uncompromising but idyllic truth: such a task is as unnecessary and impossible as trying to prevent the natural evolution of life and nature; like trying to stop the sun from dissolving water into vapour on a summer's day. 

By Kalinca Costa Söderlund