Penrith Regional Gallery presents Rebellious Belly, a solo exhibition by Sydney-based multidisciplinary artist, Abdullah M I Syed.
Marking his first solo presentation in western Sydney, Rebellious Belly is a milestone in Syed’s career that has spanned more than three decades and across continents. Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Syed studied and taught art and design in the United States, Pakistan, and Australia and now works between Australia and Pakistan. Syed creates his artwork within a globalised zone where he draws together threads of personal and historical research on transcultural identity, material culture, socio-politics and philosophy.
Rebellious Belly takes as a starting point of Syed’s interest in consumption, both literal and symbolic. What we consume—what fills our bellies—consumes us. For Syed, the body is a primary artistic medium, as the physical entity that is used to conceptualise and create his artwork, as well as acting as a threshold to the exterior world. In this sense, the artist’s body becomes a constellation of cultural narratives and histories for audiences to discover. It is the space through which contractions can be reconciled.
Featuring artworks produced during the 1990s and 2000s, through to recent major commissions, Syed invokes the Urdu term manzoom muzahamat, or poetic resistance, to test the limitations of the social and cultural forces that impress upon and affect his mind and the body. As both a psychological and philosophical response, Rebellious Belly activates our sense – to see, to touch, to smell, to taste, to hear – creating new connections to moments of resistance, reflection and transformation within religious texts, contemporary narratives, and intuitive thought.
The gesture of the rebellious belly is not one of refusal or defiance. Instead, it is one that can absorb, digest and awaken profound expressions of atonement within the human experience. A collective experience that is ultimately defined by wonder, healing and hope.
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