Ayessha Quraishi (Pakistan) was shortlisted for her work The day could not pen what the night painted., encapsulating her belief that the day and night are strung through a continuum of breaths; we have no memory of sleep, sensory experience or recording.
You mention that you work in a way ‘natural to you since childhood’ – how did you develop this style?
I did not develop this style; instead, I did not give it up. I came to paint directly with my hands instinctively, initially by applying paint with my fingers to create lines while the palm of my hand smeared it on the surface. I added colours and repeated the process until the work was complete. A brush could not replace the sense of touch.
Over time, as the concerns shifted from the physical to the emotional and phycological, I discovered an expressive and expansive language of mark-making by not just adding paint but by subtracting it simultaneously to address a personal thematic.
What draws you to the subject of sleep and the passing of time?
Realising that the self is identified with a cluster of thoughts and emotions gathered from one’s interaction with the outer world and that this notion subsides in a state of sleep, I ask, who then am I? Who is the one that is experiencing this world? Who is it that sleeps? Indeed, there is a distance between what I am and what I gather.
The answer, perhaps, rests in this in-between space, one that is not a void, nor is it a thing, that I am drawn to. It is alive in stillness, revealing and supporting form; like a musical note rests upon silence to be heard, the dancer requires stillness for movement; a gap between two thoughts and sleep between moments of wakefulness.