Meet the MFAs: Zaeed Kala
As Blaffer prepares to open the University of Houston School of Art 38th Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition on April 8 (reception 7-9 p.m.; member/VIP preview 6 p.m.), we’re highlighting artworks by each of the dozen graduating and exhibiting artists along with his or her catalog statement. Next up is Zaeed Kala:
My art questions the selectivity of human empathy that tends to shift depending on geographical distance and cultural or physical differences. As a traditional oil painter, I work with figurative portraiture of war victims. My research starts with photographs of war between the years 2003-2005 whether iconic or concealed.
I place the casualties within peaceful settings to humanize them and accentuate the passage between the physical world and beyond. Painting is my vehicle to rewrite the subjects’ history and dissociate them from their tragic past; to honor them and also change the viewer’s perception of them from public commodity to individuals.
The saturated space, a cross between abstraction and figuration, emphasizes the lack of physicality within the composition. It creates ambiguity and erases the line between sleep and death. White, clear and veil-like fabric, alluding to purity and rebirth, intertwine and wrap the figures to create motion and give life to their static bodies. I also create some paintings on layers of resin to imply three-dimensionality, incorporate sculpture aesthetics and render the figures lifelike. The entire body of work addresses empathy, mortality and our shared conditions of humanness.