Words, Glass, Fragments


In this exhibition, artist Zafar Shurbaji employs a variety of techniques in his works, and his personal imprint is evident in them. Despite the artistic techniques, the first thing that sticks out in the three works he shows, can be summed up by the three-word continuum: “words; glass; fragments.”

This sequence relates undoubtedly to the reality out of which the artist has drawn inspiration for many of his works and against which he protests with fervor. His protest finds expression in the way he elucidates reality’s unbridled madness, to our amazement, as he leads us to dangers that history has already experienced, but from which the requisite lessons have not been learned.

Shurbaji’s art does not stop at the checkpoint of reality, but crosses it in such a way as to cause the viewer to choke up and to make his brain the recipient of stimulating and disturbing signals, as a way of arousing awareness and fear in him. It would appear that the artist has used extremism to define his works in such a way that they break through the boundary of possible verbal expression – words he sees as proper and appropriate for diagnosing the reality of our lives here and now. This radicalization finds expression too, in his choice of techniques – the glass and fragments – as a way to deal with perceiving reality from his personal perspective.

Perhaps the forms of the words, chosen meticulously and with extreme caution, are an expression of strength, by means of which a complex reality has become an obsession haunting the artist’s soul. The words reflect the absurd existential situation in a way that is similar to that described in Samuel Becket’s play Waiting for Godot, including the metaphoric use of the expression that there is nothing to do about reality except for the possibility of distorting it using language, and with the help of its own rules and images, since reality has reached a dead end.

Works of this type have a very significant influence on recognizing reality; they clarify the question “Where are we headed?” in the most fundamental way. Nevertheless, a deeper issue continues to lurk in the shadows, and it is no less important: “What are we doing?” The reversal of roles and destinies is not the result of just language or words, as sharp, clear and damaging as they may be in the context of the harsh reality in which they are described.

Questions like these trouble the artist subconsciously, or perhaps he is totally conscious of them as he shows them to viewers and does not exempt them from the “duty” to linger over them and give them thought.

The way we cope with reality should point directly to the way we overcome it and cope with its destructive influences, social as well as political.

I cannot shake loose the overall impression that Shurbaji sees himself as an artist that can investigate the very personal nature of the general problem better than anyone else, an ability stemming from the presence of a “living pulse” in his works, among other qualities, which appears to be impossible to create artificially.

The artist, who foresees what will be, understands that it is impossible for whoever ignores the existential situation, to relate to the future. His investigation of realty has caused him to understand that ignoring the past as well as the weight of experiences with many connotations, does not lead to a brighter future.

A number of different perspectives are evident in Shurbaji’s works, and these serve as the basis for the artistic project he has built for us and himself. The works are rooted in a concept that places emphasis on the need to understand reality objectively, in order to honestly earn the right to vilify it. Using this as his starting point, Shurbaji creates his unique art, which we might call “the delicate balance that investigates reality and celebrates the beauty of the will.”