Two Stellar Wonders by Ali and Bahl

Tucked into a wall on the first floor, right next to the elevator, was brilliant Afghan artist Khadim Ali’s classic duo brought forth in a contemporary character. Latitude 28’s niche placement stopped you in your tracks to take a closer look and savor the language of thumbnails as well as a world that has always been articulated on the migration’s pages.

Then down the hall and into the large room on the left wall of the Espace gallery was the evocative elegance of Mekhala Bahl. Sullen grams and a docking of different strains define its sensitivity.


Mekhala Bahl’s On the other side

Mekhala Bahl, a former student of the Rhode Island School of Design, is a solitary alchemist of abstract mixtures. She creates compelling summaries that keep her in the abode of Expressionist explorers. Its fascinating landscapes with multiple treatments have the power to draw you into their mouths. Layers – the thin parallels immerse you in a series of mystical chapters that unveil a realm that must or must not be seen. Entitled Across and made from acrylic oil, etching ink, lead canvas collage on a wood polymer composite, this work speaks through the ages past and present.

“Every mark you see across the spaces tells a story,” says the bright and thoughtful Bahl. The nicks when you zoom in are valuable scars. Memories.”

With an impressive range of rendering styles and surface textures, and a healthy dose of sleight of hand, Bahl draws you into its mysterious landscapes that originated in the realm of etchings. “Dark, drawn lines are etched, peeled, scraped and painted, while the layers over and under which they reside guide me to their location,” she explains.

“Multiple surfaces create space for moments that happened in my life and are captured in my work. Moments that didn’t happen are also drawn – usually more literally, perhaps to compensate for the fact that they haven’t happened yet. It’s a kind of dreamlike delirium that I participate in. The piece can then take me to a different place, where the next work is usually.


To look at On the other side is to join a nuanced odyssey already underway, your eyes absorbing into the dark drama unfolding across multiple dimensions. The work on the wall tempts you to pull loose threads of thought into tiny strokes and slashes, which meander and weave through absorbing planes and abstract patterns, each carefully created in acrylics and other treatments.

These visuals are complemented by elusive stories that, like the visuals, often mutate within a painting. Bahl’s reflexive ruminations are testimonies of time and the visual elements are a melting pot of invention and osmosis. His works evoke timeless fables or parables that have been impregnated with the impurities and detritus of modern life.


At Khadim Ali’s Evacuation II

The blue in the background is both surreal yet seeps into your senses. of Ali Evacuationis inspired by miniature Iranian painting, incorporating traditional techniques and materials – such as gold leaf and gouache on wasli paper – as a way to tell of her shared experience of persecution, displacement and discrimination.

It’s the story elements that are powerful. The elephant is an endangered species, a glorious symbol of transportation as well as an age of ingenuity. The three uniformed individuals atop the elephant speak of military anarchy. The decorated elephant is a masterpiece in the many legends of the monarchy.


The crowds below, the flames of gold-flaky splendor have a macabre melancholy. They are flames of anguish and desolate despair. Torn from their homes and assaulted in the name of freedom, the choreography is one of depth and desolation of the multiple shades of history.


Khadim’s childhood

Khadim Ali was born in Quetta, Pakistan, after his family fled their home in Afghanistan to escape Taliban persecution. Part of a much persecuted minority group called the Hazaras, he grew up as a refugee, and from an early age he faced discrimination, displacement and genocide of his people, which is at the heart of his work as an artist.

Ali was trained in classical miniature painting in Lahore, Pakistan, and mural painting and calligraphy in Tehran, Iran. Therefore, he incorporates delicate handwork and materials from these traditions into his intricately rendered paintings and large textiles. Another key influence is the Shahnameh or Book of Kings, a 10th-century epic poem and icon of Persian literature, which Khadim Ali grew up listening to as a child when his grandfather sang poetry from it, and crowds gathered. to hear his voice. . The illustrated version of the book contained paintings from 15th century Iran and Afghanistan, which marked his first encounter with miniature painting and would become his gateway to the world of art. Borrowing motifs from the Shahnameh, his works are imbued with a deep intimacy, drawing a trajectory between his own past, the dark history of the Hazaras and the permanent feeling of displacement, loss and melancholy.



The opinions expressed above are those of the author.


Comments are closed.