TRACKS AND TRACES

Discerning a metaphor or a literal statement from this title; choosing the significance of words over the free universes proffered by the artist. Anyone is free to derive whichever message they wish. One thing is certain, however: Salim Currimjee, the architect, collector, artist, entrepreneur and sponsor, does not like the restrictive boundaries of a title or those of a space.

In 1985, he first chose his academic background; a Bachelor’s degree – with a specialty in biology and an option in art history – at Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts. This was followed by a Master’s degree in Architecture at Rice University, Texas (secured in 1990). 1991 was the year of his return to Mauritius.

With his abundant knowledge complementing an intrinsic taste that has fashioned his choices since his beginnings, Salim moves on to open an architectural firm in Port Louis. Since then, the city continually animates him. Except for a few exhibitions (from 1991 to 1993) in local galleries, as well as a participation in group exhibitions such as BORDERLINE (at the Granary building in March 2016) and Porlwi by Nature (at the same place) in 2017, Salim has shown his work through solo exhibitions only. These solo exhibits were organised by him in unusual places and old buildings of the Mauritian capital, where the structure of the chosen buildings (often stripped bare) was fully incorporated into the staging of his works. Ellora, in 1994, Yellow Road Paintings in 1996, Mapping in 1998, Mind Maps, in 2009, Solus – a year in painting, in 2013, Salim Currimjee in 2015 and Recent Works 2017 take birth at the four corners of the historic streets of Port -Louis. He also won, in 1997, the Artist of the Year Award, which was awarded by the British Council.
Salim Currimjee participates in the Seychelles Biennale in 1994, the Johannesburg Biennale in 1995 and the 8th Biennale in Cairo in 2001. His work also travels to London with Field Studies in 2002 at the Essor Gallery. He takes part in group exhibitions – more than twelve – in various countries, including Germany and India (for the New Delhi Triennale in 1997). A member of the African Art Acquisition Commission for Tate Modern since 2010, the artist opens the doors of the ICAIO (Institute of Contemporary Art Indian Ocean) in 2015 to support regional exchanges and showcase the territory’s acclaimed artists.

Tracks and Traces is his fifteenth Mauritian solo in the capital. It is the culmination of years of discoveries, of choices of preferred materials, of mixtures, which are sometimes retained, and which today showcase the amalgamation, the apotheosis, of his knowledge in the same work. In his pieces an organic world and a geometric world coexist; biology and architecture share the space of the canvas, of multiple canvases, and mingle with each other, rejoin each other and sometimes clash. These two prominent themes are ever-present in the artist’s work: ancient paramours, which remain relevant. Another theme, which also recurs, is the one of roads and maps, and in the present day’s tracks and traces. Links are woven between the figurative space, the plane space (the medium), and the real space;
this creates multiple superficies, shattered surfaces, and reconstructed universes.
See in his theme the path, the trajectory, the track, or the act of watching or detecting things and moments laid down here and there. We then discover static moments, those that leave a trace, however ephemeral. These moments are immortalised by the very act of representing and fixing them: just like tracks in the sand, which are gripping and which signify a passage, but which, in reality, leave whatever happens. Then comes the dialogue surrounding this profound debate, the one that questions the possibility to contain space in an ephemeral way.

Salim Currimjee classifies his work in an independent manner; he therefore breaks the predefined rules of the world of art and names what he produces according to his own choices. “We are never a single thing, but rather a mixture,” says the artist. Today his photography is integrated into his paintings, his drawings in his aquarelle works, his drawings in his paintings, and even his drawings in his drawings. He questions space and humanity through his work with a meticulous and geometrical, sometimes even cellular, approach. His work also refers to the balance between human beings and nature, between conscious and subconscious.

The artist uses this gathering to say that nothing is ever simple, that we are all layers of multiple elements. Salim Currimjee’s work can be reminiscent of the pieces of Bauhaus artists and some of the works of Sophie Taueber Arp and her companion Jean Arp. Like these artists, Salim questions the relationship between the work, the space and the viewer, but also its status. His chairs bring to mind the Tatline contre- reliefs spilling out of walls, lodged into angles, whose shadows disturb the viewing of the work and therefore questions its very nature.
His work is an evolution; composed of mixtures where he juxtaposes painting on wood, sculpture, photography, aquarelle, drawing, and ink; alternating lines and surfaces, flat areas and material effects. Represented reliefs and real reliefs. The artist plays on the true and the false. He nurtures a confusion about issues of representation and presentation, about the relationship between the artwork and its space, and about the nature of his work and its meaning.