Away from London’s headline grabbing exhibitions there are always a wonderful selection of smaller shows; the challenge is how to find them. The exhibition of Anwar Shemza’s work is a great example of a small under-the-radar show. His works are bold and colourful and combine Asian and Western influences and this year the Tate Modern has dedicated one of its smaller rooms to his work in a free exhibition.
Anwar Shemza was already an established artist and writer in his home country when he moved to Britain in 1956 to study art. His relocation changed everything for him and his new life in Britain lead him to completely re-examine his approach to his art; eventually abandoning everything he had done before. As he adapted himself to his new surrounds and culture he increasingly immersed himself in Islamic art, making a study of its form from different periods. His new life and studies took him to look for what he called his “own identity”, which manifested itself in an illustrative approach to his work. He fused Islamic motifs with western abstraction to create rich and complex works, often layering post-war geometric abstraction with Arabic calligraphic forms. The effects are striking and the exhibition at the Tate provides a rare glance at his vivid and imaginative work.
A selection of the work of Anwar Shemza is on display at The Tate Britain in London until autumn 2016. For more information about visiting this free exhibition visit: http://www.tate.org.uk/