A solo exhibition by Prince Emerald Aydin
reviewed by Jacqueline Larcombe
AMEER ZOMORRADA translates as Prince Emerald Aydin. Spelt out in English characters the title reflects the artist’s Arab identity. This identity appears to be a highly subjective one, played out in the colourful liberality and self-explorative tone of Aydin’s work. The all-encompassing impression one gets from the works is Prince’s strong assertion of ‘self’. This notion is not confined to an Arab experience or a queer identity, which is of course an overriding theme, but ultimately the work is dealing in what it means to be human.
To be human is convoluted and by no means clear, as humans we are ultimately flawed and full of contradictions driven by the absurdity of our desires, needs wants and perversions. However it is this understanding of the absurd nature of the human experience where we find the humour that lies in the artist’s work. Prince states that their work is about life. Life is hard and we suffer. Yet life is also beautiful. There is an intimacy to the work as the artist shares with us their successes and failures, their highs and lows. There is a lot of humanity in this sharing alone.
The iPad drawings including ‘Merboy’ and ‘Guerrilla Girl’ are visual monologues as much as they are self-portraits of the artist. We are reminded that our minds cannot stay in one place illustrated through these busy tableaus that are laden with text that is personal, perverse and always hilarious. There are of course dark and personal themes reflecting on gender, social, and family issues yet they are cleverly camouflaged by, punchy lines, garish icons and references to art and popular culture.
In ‘Resume’, and ‘Cover letter’ (2014) we get a personalised insight into the artist's mind. A rambling train of poetic thoughts and intimate experiences, Prince is exposing their inner self and personal life to the unsuspecting reader. Copies of this resume have been sent off to a number of real life prospective employers, the documentation of this process will have to be another exhibition in itself. The work is intimate and heartfelt and highlights the phenomenon of the public and private self.
The video work ‘Paint like a Man (Apparently)' is a documentation of a previous performance by Prince in 2013. Here we see the artist dressed as a man earnestly painting a large scale abstract painting and 3 monochromes. There is an absurdity to the act of men painting in this way, the self-assuredness as they moosh paint around a canvas, an act that is far too ridiculous not to be ridiculed. Should we not be asking why abstract painting is still valid practice? This question is of course provocative but it is the lack of debate on this subject that is disconcerting.
Art history is made up of a lineage of men and all the good and bad paintings that they have painted. This is not to say that the ‘other’ hasn’t asserted itself aggressively and effectively onto this patriarchal trajectory- halting its course, but art history has always been a male dominated story. This story is well known, it is the one about the male genius who paints fearlessly, brazenly with a masculinity that no one can deny. Is painting itself a form of role play? The video begs the question, when we pick up a paint brush and apply medium to canvas, do we all paint like men?
AMEER ZOMORRODA runs until May 4 2014