More About Anila Quayyum Agha: Dualities

Multidisciplinary artist Anila Quayyum Agha (American, b. Pakistan, 1965) uses light to transform spaces into immersive visual spectacles that inspire a sense of wonder. Illuminated by an internal or external light source, each of her sculptures casts dramatic shadows that animate the gallery walls, ceiling, and floor. Agha melds Western and Eastern cultures in her work, using modern-day materials and scientific technologies such as laser-cut lacquered steel. She also pays homage to the intricate floral and geometric patterns of Islamic art and architecture from her native country, Pakistan, as well as other locations within South and Central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.

Anila Quayyum Agha: Dualities showcases three of the artist’s large-scale sculptural installations, which engage topical concerns around migration, transience, and the politics of displacement. The exhibition culminates with a selection of works on paper that reflect Agha’s training in textile design and her innovative experimentation across media. The drawings are ethereal and intimate in scale, and some employ handmade Korean paper, referencing the crossing of cultural boundaries. Another group incorporates intricately hand-stitched embroidery and beadwork, conveying the artist’s ongoing engagement with craft practices traditionally associated with women and women’s labor in the domestic sphere.

While the works on view address larger cultural, and gender-based issues, they also reflect Agha’s own dual experiences as a Pakistani and American woman, posing dualities between masculine and feminine, public and private, religious and secular, East and West. Contrasts of light and shadow further mirror important themes of inclusion and exclusion. The light promises to envelop and unite visitors within a shared inclusive space, inviting critical dialogue and perhaps some resolution to the polarities that structure our contemporary world.

This exhibition is organized by Margarita Karasoulas, Curator of Art, Bruce Museum.

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