November 14 to December 22, 2003
Mala Iqbal is an observant person. A combiner of what is remembered and what
is imagined, Mala willfully stylizes, scrambles, exaggerates and distorts.
Accuracy of a naturalistic sort is not important to her. These uncanny
images are recognizable enough to slide under a viewer's radar. Based on
actual and imagined observation, they reach a sense of the unreal. Paying
attention to something small makes it seem big and vice versa. There is a
certain strangeness that comes from mixing the registers of magnification:
highly rendered detail sits next to a vague blur. This visual hierarchy
underscores distortions of perception and perspective, the twin filters of
both reality and consciousness.
Mala's work used to involve figures: gravity-proof beings who shape-shifted
endlessly across fantasylands. Eventually they transformed and evolved
themselves out of existence by becoming their surroundings, assuming the
form of mountains, sand dunes or lakes. What has remained is the sense that
everything is animate. Surfaces writhe with texture, loud colors describe
quiet scenes, and light picks out every leaf in a dark garden.
According to Roberta Smith, "Mala Iqbal seems intent on using a separate
technique for each element in her hallucinatory landscapes: spray paint,
sponging, stippling, trompe l'oeil. This is not an unusual ploy these days,
but Ms. Iqbal uses it in a loose unfinicky way, achieving a vibrant
Mala Iqbal holds a BA from Columbia and an MFA from RISD. A native of Staten
Island, she was the recipient of the Irene C. Fromer Award from the Snug
Harbor Cultural Center in 2001, where she had a show titled Super-Natural.