30 May - 2 August 2014
Ways is the first solo exhibition by Australian artist Omar Chowdhury. Chowdhury has spent the past two years working in the country of his birth and one of the most densely populated on earth, whose character is deeply informed by religious faiths and daily acts of worship. There, he has created an ambitious new body of work, which traverses urban and rural terrains searching for material embodiments of spiritual transcendence.
Chowdhury produces large-scale and richly detailed moving image works filmed on location in Bangladesh during extended periods of immersion in various cultural and physical landscapes. Producing an expansive view of the country and its spiritual practice, he has captured both intimate and communal moments that show people taking part in religious ceremonies and festivals as well as engrossing himself in a level of committed observance and transformation of everyday actions. In this suite of works tensions arise — between form and formlessness, action and inaction, presence and absence — which are heightened by the artist through a cinematic style that draws on both the mechanisms of documentary filmmaking as well as more experimental narrative structures.
For Chowdhury the camera is not simply a tool for image-making but a means to frame and test acts of philosophical and artistic enquiry. How might individual gestures and the movement and rhythm of ritualistic acts embody collective experiences of spiritual transcendence? To what extent does an immersion in architecture shape the human body and mind within real and imagined boundaries? Is the path to enlightenment necessarily an individualistic and hermetic journey, or one that can be experienced and shared with others?
Commissioned especially for this exhibition by 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art with support from The Keir Foundation is Omar Chowdhury’s Locus I, II, a two-channel video installation that over its long duration presents sequences of complex layers and sequences of communities and their built environment that ultimately question the symbiotic relationship between spiritual ways and physical means.
FURTHER INFORMATION AND RESOURCES
Download the brochure for this exhibition featuring an essay by Murtaza Vali, An Index of the Divine here
Nicholas Forrest, Review: Omar Chowdhury Experiments with Faith and Form at 4A Gallery, Sydney, Blouin ArtInfo, 17 July 2014.
Andrew Frost, Omar Chowdhury review: A wilful disregard for convention, The Guardian, 3 June 2014.
Naomi Gall, Find a Deeper Meaning with Omar Chowdhury, Artery, 23 May 2014.
Naomi Gall, Arts Review: Ways, The Au Review, 2 June 2014.
Omar Chowdhury Showcases Dhaka in Ways Solo Exhibition, Broadsheet
Interview with Lucy Rees, ARTAND Australia, 26 June 2014.
Omar Chowdhury: Ways is produced by 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and supported by the Keir Foundation and the Edward M. Kennedy Center for Public Service and the Arts, Dhaka.