From the receding interior spaces of the boudoir, shrine or sitting room in Uzma Sultan’s earlier paintings, the flattened and patterned surface has come surging forward in her recent works, painted both in Karachi and as part of a residency at Glogauair in Berlin. Including stacks of Tibet powder and cooking oil tins, a crowd of painted vehicles, and a multiplied bed of charpoys viewed from an impossibly high angle, these paintings are rendered with Sultan’s characteristically crooked figuration. In the last case, Sultan appropriates the stacked perspective of the early miniature tradition, flattening and tipping the horizontal plane upwards and towards us.
Alternately exaggerating and muting particular colours, the patterned surfaces that Sultan’s paintings represent are vibrant, and yet also rather barren. Most particularly, these paintings reflect the joy of the mark, of pushing colours against each other like unhappy lovers. They reflect the dance of paint on matter, in this case on impervious surfaces such as aluminum, vinyl or perspex.
These works flirt with ugliness, with the shaky gesture of the brushstroke, and with the imprecision of an unplanned composition. They demonstrate that painting, in the end, is not only about painting pictures, but about making paintings. About the painful pleasure of paint, colour, surface and form.