Audio: Khadim Ali’s Rustam Series – Untitled I
KHADIM ALI (B. 1978)
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KHADIM ALI (B. 1978)

Rustam Series - Untitled I

KHADIM ALI (B. 1978)
Rustam Series - Untitled I
signed and dated in Urdu (centre left)
gouache and gold leaf on wasli
17 x 12¾ in. (43.2 x 31.1 cm.)
Executed in 2011
Acquired directly from the artist
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VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

Lot Essay

Selected for Documenta 2012, artist Khadim Ali's jewel-like, fascinating creations are steeped in mythology which elucidate contemporary engagements around issues of war, struggle and loss of cultural identities. By interweaving complex symbols he explores coexisting layers of experience, history and culture, which comment on contradictions in a world turned upside down by warped ideologies. Ali's family fled from the Taliban regime in Bamiyan, Afghanistan to Quetta, Pakistan which in turn became a stronghold for the movement and his artistic practice has been intertwined with personal poignancy. These works are from his 'Rustam' series; the warrior hero of the 10th-century Persian poem Shanamah, or Book of Kings, Rustam is the embodiment of virtue and honour through glorious deeds in the ancient legend, but has now become a figurehead adopted by young Taliban fighters. The artist's rendering of the Taliban in this series is deliberate, depicting fierce demonic looking creatures with long beards, posturing as kings or armed with symbols of mythic heroes. Commenting on myths grounded in history and vice versa, Ali employs the legend to reference recent Afghan and international history. The opulent use of gold leaf is gilded over repetitive text with pointed irony, illustrating perverted words and meaning which seduce people into fundamentalist beliefs.

"The true value of words and ideas," Ali says, "is lost to the demons." (Jemima Montagu, 'Gilded Demons', Modern Painters, May 2009).

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