Shazia Mahmood @ Cambridge Contemporary Art

SIANA BANGURA finds Shazia Mahmood’s exhibition at Cambridge Contemporary Art dramatic, emotive, and exciting.

Art art exhibition Cambridge cambridge contemporary art Scotland shazia mahmood Siana Bangura

Cambridge Contemporary Art, 5th-29th May

Shazia Mahmood is currently exhibiting a beautiful collection of landscape paintings at Cambridge Contemporary Art. Shazia devotes her time to the exploration of a very unique method of painting, which involves engaging with nature and producing haunting masterpieces.

The exhibition concentrates primarily on Shazia’s exploration of landscapes, and in particular: the Scottish west coasts. The pieces were created by the process of chromatography – the colour separation reaction caused by two specific mediums interacting. This places a clear emphasis on the importance of different textures within artistic pieces.

Upon reflection, Loch Eishort from Drumfearn stands as my favourite piece in the exhibition – mainly because of the power of the darker colours she uses. It is in this piece that her particular method of painting comes alive and is showcased at its best.

In Shazia’ s work, the base medium is a layer of PVA glue on canvas – a technique favoured by many young artists – but, when she applies ink to glue, the individual dyes are drawn out to create a distinctive colour transition. As such, Shazia emphasises the power that strong colours can have on our emotions and relationship with nature. Resultantly, every piece in this collection is dramatic, emotive, and exciting.

Shazia also paints the west coasts of Ireland and America. The obvious care and passion invested into each painting makes this exhibition an absolute treat for any art enthusiast in Cambridge. Each painting transports you to a particularly peaceful place in Scotland where the sense of isolation and drama can be contained, experienced, and then shared.

For this exhibition, Shazia’s painitngs are accompanied by sculptures by Michael Lythgoe, a Liverpudlian turned Canadian bird photographer. Michael creates bird and fish carvings, and utilises cedar and grain structures. The birds are then polished off with acrylic paint, just like Shazia Mahmood’s pieces. Each bird is then finally sealed with several coats of wax.

Shazia has decided to donate, Loch Eishort from Drumfearn to a raffle facilitated by Cambridge Contemporary Art, in an effort to help raise funds for The John Muir Trust. The trust advocates the importance of the preservation of the wilderness, and promotes the value of the panoramic.

Although I would have enjoyed seeing a few of the paintings framed, or on a free-standing standing easel so as to use the space a bit more, neither would have been an appropriate way to present Shazia Mahmood’s paintings. Since they so heavily emphasise the freedom of nature and isolation, they were displayed appropriately.

Cambridge Contemporary Art hosts a fantastically cosy atmosphere, so if you fancy some productive procrastination and/or cultural dossing then take yourself down to this very worthwhile exhibition before 29th May.

Photography by Siana Bangura