Salim Currimjee

Salim is a Mauritian artist and architect who has been widely exhibited. He has received accolades including the Artist of the Year award from the British Council and taken part in the Gasworks Studio’s Residence Programme in London. He has been a Committee Member at the Tate Modern in London from 2010 to 2017, is a member of the Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain de la Réunion’s Acquisition Committee since 2018, and the founder of the Institute of Contemporary Art Indian Ocean (ICAIO) in Mauritius.

“Artists are shaped by their environment. What they have to say is defined by where they are saying it from.” Salim has explored the construct of space since the beginning of his career. Diversity, displacement, urbanisation, climate change, kreolization, economic development… all these inherently affect the work that is made and are represented in spatial constructs. Salim explains that “space, as we perceive it, is a construct of our perception. In reality, three-dimensional space only exists in that we are at the centre of it. Accordingly, how we perceive and construct space and spaces defines how we experience ourselves. This extends to all aspects of our existence – mental and physical spaces, internal and external spaces, public and private spaces, and conscious and subconscious spaces and realms.”

Over the years, Salim has evolved a syntax of Cartesian and organic symbols to represent the complexity and abstraction of what we call space. The work he presents for BORDERLINE[S] is a continuation of this process. In this syntax, hierarchies and grids and linear readings are interrupted. Symbols that begin as architectural forms – windows, doors (squares and rectangles) – are magnified to become lines, roads and maps and aerial landscapes. The forms of cells, the basic element of the organic world, are often embedded in these fragmented planes. Thus, for the viewer, the connections they make between the marks and forms determines its meaning – there is no singular or linear interpretation of the matrix that is represented.

This also extends to the hybrid media in which the works are rendered. Collage, ink and pencil drawings, watercolour, painting and photography often co-exist, dissolving the differences between painting and sculpture and drawing as media. A painting can stand on the floor and a sculpture can hang on a wall, disrupting our idea of what is two-dimensional and three-dimensional, and perhaps alluding to dimensions we cannot represent in our human language of perception. Using the creation of art as an analogue to living, Salim explores dissolution, categorisation and the boundaries that we create and that we are often subject to. Why borders, he asks?

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Djuneid Dulloo

Mauritius