Thursday, April 09, 2015

MFA Candidate: Mahera Khaleque

from 'Palimpsest to Palimpsestuous'

After growing up in Bangladesh and now having spent many years in the United States, Mahera Khaleque considers herself a diasporic artist. Her state of being present and absent in two distant places is echoed in the logic and structure of her interwoven paintings. Through her art, she feels she can express the culture that is fed through her. Like a filter, she catches moments and images that stick out in her mind and transmits them into her work.

“My bi-cultural status simultaneously permits and forces me to choose one practice over another or blend them on a daily basis regardless of my physical existence in one or the other geographical location,” says Khaleque.

For her upcoming show at the Georgia Museum of Art she worked with the idea of the Palimpsest. A Palimpsest is a manuscript where the original material has been erased and written on top of, though traces of the original show through. 

To execute this idea she layered paint with her dad’s journal entries, historical writings from political figures in Bangladesh, along with other manuscripts. These woven creations are like self-portraits from her subconscious representing her worlds intermingling with the past always showing through. 

Khaleque elaborates that, “While the first reason responsible for overwriting manuscripts reminds me of urban walls occupied with overcrowded posters and writings saturated with natural erosions, the latter reminds me of deliberate efforts in erasing as well as re-writing history throughout the historical timeline.” 

She is inspired by the additive and reductive process of creating and how history can be written and rewritten and covered over to allow for more. People are surprised to find that she works not on canvas but on cardboard. This material gives her art a raw, authentic feel, just like the collage work she creates.

“Depending on my physical existence in one geographical location, some cultural practices from one culture become more dominant over others. Very often I find myself blending them subconsciously in my work as well as regular interactions with my surrounding,” she explains. 

Khaleque tries to convey a sense of absence and loss through her paintings, which comes across in the way the layers may be peeled away to show what remains of the past. Her images show how culture can be seen through individual experience.

To experience these paintings, visit the “Master of Fine Arts Degree Candidates Exhibition” at the Georgia Museum of Art from April 11 to May 3, 2015.

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