Soft Opening: Saturday the 19th of August, 12 - 6 pm
Floating rocks tied together by string, trails of gold, a bicycle in a grassy field, a deserted swimming pool, an open door. For Houda Terjuman, life is made up of visual symbols that she collects and paints into exquisite dreamscapes that reflect on the passage of time and stories of migration. This latest series of delicate paintings, presented in Glide Through Evanescent Lands, her second solo exhibition at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, is her most personal yet, inspired by her own experiences of dislocation and her continual search for balance.
In many of these works, the objects – which Terjuman describes as surrogates ‘for us’ or our memories – appear untethered, suspended in space or else held by a thin piece of thread such as the rocks in Unfasten the cord and emerge I and II. Both of these works depict two rocks, one tied by string and the other free floating in space. For Terjuman, the string represents the safety and comfort of society – the unsupported rock by contrast has dropped lower in space, but it has also begun to develop its own identity. In Unfasten the cord and emerge I, there are leafy plants sprouting from its surface while the blown-out candle in II is symbolic of a wish being carried by smoke into the atmosphere.Where the rocks are tied together, however, in Vente conmigo II and Blood Moon, they appear to be supporting and guiding one another on their voyage into the unknown.
Another recurring motif are pieces of gold that form a trail in the sky, drawing the eye into the distance. In all of Terjuman’s paintings, gold makes reference to El Dorado, the legend of a golden city that has bewitched people for centuries with its promise of unimaginable riches. However, she explores El Dorado not as a place or hopeless quest for material wealth, but as a state of mind that enables positive thinking. In Drifting Destinies VI, for example, one of the darker, more melancholic scenes, which depicts a cream sofa on the edge of boggy wasteland, the gold provides both a light source and a pathway to something beyond the present moment.
In a sense, this is the aim of Terjuman’s art: to produce an image, using carefully chosen colours and imagery, that inspires and soothes both the artist and viewer. The varying shades of red used in the background of many of these latest paintings – most intensely in Pine tree cloak and Pine tree cloak II – for example, is associated with fire (energy) and blood (our essential life source) as well as the Muladhara or root chakra that according to Hindu tantrism is connected to the earth and a feeling of rootedness. Meanwhile, the lush grassy meadows that appear throughout Terjuman’s work, stretching seemingly endlessly into the horizon, invite a sense of calm expansiveness.
Through these elements, Terjuman finds a sense of visual harmony that enables her to transform the eerie presence of a boat or bicycle abandoned in a grass field into a powerful message of beauty and hope.