Azar Alsharif

Azar Alsharif - Matter Of Fact - Acrylic and collage on wood 95 x 80 cm 2022

April 14 – May 7, 2023

We are happy to invite you to the opening of Azar Alsharif’s second solo show at MELK titled SPEEDY WINDOWS.

In the shadow of a thing lies the idea of the thing. This is often an imagination of what could be, something that stretches beyond the thing, beyond the idea even, into spectacle, promise, possibility. This speaks to a condition of projection based on our own subjectivity, whereby behind a thing is a vibrant landscape teeming with potential.

This promise of something more touches upon a deeply human tendency to desire, which bleeds through the collages of Azar Alsharif’s solo exhibition at MELK Galleri. Alsharif extracts, manipulates and abstracts images from magazines, newspapers and old comics, placing them in electric, fervorous painted landscapes of longing.

In humorously employing the language of visual culture – specifically formative aesthetics from her childhood – Alsharif’s work builds from a “textual logic”, with coatings of paint forming a backdrop, spilling over the edges, and symbols composed onto the surface like quotations. Images act like text, and text like images. With the ephemeral nature of newspapers and magazines glossily preserved on top of thick lashings of paint, a loose catalogue of symbols emerges, like strange images from dreams. Her approach is intuitive and playful, light and honest.

It is about more than just the objects themselves, but rather their carefully constructed scenographies of desire in which they sit. Expanding beyond their physical form or surface-level representation, these objects cultivate memories, emotions, a philosophy, a way of being – the idea that they could make everything make sense. In SPEEDY WINDOWS, these images land in new, painted landscapes that reconfigure, obscure and question their intended purpose or context. Things are given new relationships and no clear meanings.

Like the meandering pathway that strolls through Old Story, these works change our course of perception and our pace of reading images. Through repetition, these images teeter on the edge of meaninglessness while brimming with meaning, like a riddle with no answer. Everything is a cipher. They lie latent ready for our subjective desires to choreograph them. They poke, nudge and prod into the fibres of whatever happens to surround us, revealing our simple wish to relate and to locate meaning.

Alsharif’s work takes on an archival quality, but without recording details of context, references or data. Instead we encounter an elastic archive of desire, of chance, of symbols that appear and repeat, sparking a choir of questions to every new pair of eyes.

Text by Ruby Eleftheriotis

Azar Alsharif (b. 1984) lives and works in Bergen. She holds a BA from Bergen National Academy of the Arts. She has exhibited at Market Art Fair, Stockholm (2023), Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo (2020), MELK, Oslo (2020), KODE art museum, Bergen (2019), Stavanger Kunsthall, Stavanger (2019), Hordaland Art Centre, Bergen (2018), Tag Team Studio, Bergen (2017), Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2016), Futura, Prague (2016), NADA, New York (2015), Kunsthall Oslo (2015), Entrée, Bergen (2013), Fotogalleriet, Oslo (2012) and Gallery 1857, Oslo (2011) among others. Her works are in several private and public collections such as Preus museum, KODE art museum, Equinor, KORO (Art in public places) and Karolinska University Hospital in Solna (Stockholm). In 2020 she received the Springbrett Prize in Bergen, and in 2017 the monograph Azar Alsharif was published by Kunsthall Oslo and Torpedo publishers.