Shezad Dawood: Towards the Possible Film & Elín Jakobsdóttir: Eyes Cast, Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds

Shezad Dawood’s Towards the Possible Film brings together new film, textile painting and neon work, alongside his selected works from the collection to inspire a meeting point between modernism and mysticism, mapping out enquiries into histories of place and the significance of landscape and culture. Meanwhile, Elín Jakobsdóttir’s Eyes Cast, is a commissioned moving image work shot in Super 8 on location in Leeds Art Gallery. This silent visual poem traces a route through the building with a focus upon two bronze portrait busts by the sculptor Jacob Epstein. This new film is shown alongside plumpe Denken Modalities, a new series of paper cut-outs and drawings.

Shezad Dawood is of British and Pakistani heritage and makes investigations rooted in this cultural heritage and desire to encourage communication between different cultures, the past and future. This exhibition gives Dawood the opportunity to show works of his own alongside selected historic pieces from the Leeds Art Gallery collection. For his new film installation, Towards the Possible Film (2014) shot at Legzira beach in Sidi Ifni, Morocco, Dawood found a deep source of inspiration in the region’s many wars fought in the 1950/60s between Spain, Morocco and the independent Saharan tribes. This fantastical plot sees blue skinned astronauts emerge from the sea onto a rocky red landscape to confront the indigenous inhabitants. These encounters appear as strange collisions which allow the artist to examine various fundamental questions of being.

New film, Eyes Cast (2014) by Elín Jakobsdóttir highlights our own mortality by touching on the enigma of time. The film’s contemplative pace takes the viewer into a dreamlike world whilst focusing on the idea of the museum as a place for reflection. Decorative richly coloured tiled surfaces and stairways fade into the natural forms from which they derive as we move outside into a monochrome landscape. The man-made world re-emerges when the fluttering leaves of a parkland drift into wrought iron vines decorating graves in a Berlin cemetery.

Elín Jakobsdóttir’s second series of work is plumpe Denken Modalities, a new set of paper cut-outs and drawings. The expression ‘plumpe Denken’ is taken from the German playwright Bertolt Brecht who stated a preference for working with plump or crude thoughts as opposed to rigorously honed thoughts. Therefore, Jakobsdóttir’s drawings are concerned with the territory of the mind and body, bringing together objects from the everyday environment, body parts and organs, abstract shapes suggestive of mechanical and metabolic processes and lines that trace pathways of thought, humour and poetic ambiguity.

These two exhibitions allow Leeds Art Gallery to once again bring thought-provoking art to the city, and to exhibit its designated historic collection alongside contemporary art.

Shezad Dawood: Towards the Possible Film and Elín Jakobsdóttir: Eyes Cast, 3 October – 18 January, Leeds Art Gallery, The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS1 3AA.

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1. Shezad Dawood, Towards the Possible (2014). Courtesy of the artist and Film and Video Umbrella.