Alexander Gorlizki & Indian Spells: Drawings from the Nineteenth Century

22 February - 1 March 2008

New York based British artist Alexander Gorlizki chose to show a group of new paintings alongside a selection of rare 19th Century Indian drawings which are believed to have been used as healing 'spells'. This was the first time Gorlizki's work was seen in Scotland.


Gorlizki's works on paper originate from an obsession with Indian Miniature paintings - a tradition that he has subverted and applied to his own particular visual language. In the mid 1990's he opened a studio in Jaipur, India with Riyaz Uddin, a master painter with a perfect command of technique that goes back over 600 years. Gorlizki draws out wonderfully odd subjects, patterns and compositions that Uddin then paints with jewel-coloured pigments, stone colours and gold leaf with a single hair-tipped brush to create works of breathtaking intricacy. When not working together in the studio, drawings get sent back and forth to be modified and adapted between New York and Jaipur, often over a period of years.


Like scenes and characters from some strange dream, these small paintings brilliantly combine the mythical and the banal, the everyday and the absurd: a giant topiary bird is tracked by topiary hunters; photographs of famous faces - Gilbert & George, Francis Bacon, Rita Hayworth - are reduced to strangely familiar eyes and lips which peer and smile from beneath ornate expanses of pattern. If one could imagine the Surrealist painter Ren? Magritte working centuries ago in the court of a Mughal emperor, the results may have looked something like these idiosyncratic gems.


The exhibition's counterpoint is a group of very rare and unusual drawings from Northern India dating from the 19th Century. As part of Gorlizki's extensive private collection of early Indian Folk drawings these compelling and enigmatic works have not been researched or documented and very little is known about them. They are understood to represent healing diagrams and magic spells made by holy men and priests in remote villages in which the image of the patient's body is drawn over and around with real and fictive scripts that act as talismanic, protective charms.


Alexander Gorlizki was born in London in 1967 and studied Fine Art at Bristol Polytechnic, followed by an MFA in Sculpture at the Slade, London. He currently lives and works in New York.