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Asim Waqif

Indian Contemporary Artist
Born 1978, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India
Lives and works in New Delhi

Delhi-based Asim Waqif has a background in architecture and started making independent videos and documentaries before moving into a dedicated art-practice. His recent projects have attempted a crossover between architecture, art and design, with a strong contextual reference to contemporary urban-design and the politics of occupying/intervening/using public spaces. His artworks often employ manual processes that are deliberately pain-staking and laborious while the products themselves are often temporary and sometimes even designed to decay.



Bachelor of Architecture at the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi

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Waqif's art is deeply informed by his background

Asim Waqif trained as an architect. He has a strong understanding of materiality and space which reflects in his work. Careful use of scale, volume and large spaces can be seen in his work titled 'Zuk 1'. It draws on the multiple ways bamboo is used in India, including scaffolding for construction projects. Light but extremely durable and able to handle weight, bamboo is considered a pedestrian material in India because of its abundance. The use of bamboo underscores Waqif's specific interest in vernacular architecture - the creation of innovative constructions using traditional, local materials - as well as in environmental sustainability.

Since his initial foray into art seven years ago, he has built an oeuvre that comments on India's consumerism and its effect on the environment.

Asim Waqif, Zuk 1, 2012.

He addresses issues of a growing capital city through his works

Asim Waqif blends the local concerns of the mindlessly-growing capital city and its shift away from the vernacular salt of the earth in his installation and mixed media art. He draws from a variety of western art movements like Dadaism, abstract expressionism, surrealism, cubism and minimalism . Waqif uses bamboo, coir, paper, recycled waste and photographic prints as his primary material for installations that explores issues related to ecology, town planning, kinetics and the mechanics of sound, light and digital aids in synergy with natural elements and ancient art traditions. In his work, "Disruptions", Waqif has used paper as a tactile medium to build a "pop-up" landscape of the capital- throwing the spotlight on the enormous urban decay that threatens to consume the capital's current skyline.

Asim Waqif, Disruptions, 2013, Nature Morte Gallery.

Comments on the art market through his works

Waqif uses a collection of objects like empty cigarette cases, sheep skin, bubble wrap, wood panels from an old furniture and old metal scrap in his works to bring an effect of art and decay. Waqif believes that memory of the object that remains after decay is more important than the object itself. He uses a peel-off effect on the surface of his works like "Acid on free Paper 1 and 2" , in which he worked with hammers and then covered it with bubble wrap to talk of degradation and decay. The artist says it is a critique of the art market "where buyers are conscious about the money and the archival value of the work".

Asim Waqif, Acid on free paper, 2013.

Asim Waqif makes installations that stimulate all five senses

The 34-year-old multidisciplinary artist involves people as actors in his works, which includes light and sound. It is a unique experience for the audience as they are able to hear, see, walk, feel and smell the work. In an effort to stimulate all five senses, he built mechanical pedals and electronic panels into the mazelike structure in his elaborate sculpture 'Bordel Monstre'. Made out of materials discarded at the end of the previous exhibition, its exterior form resembles the damage wrought by a force of nature. Its construction was as spontaneous and unplanned as the weather. The work is 'an archeology of trash', as its author claims it to be.

Asim Waqif, Bordel Monstre, 2012, at Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Sculpture made of plastic waste and wiring.

His works reflect on problems with globalization and neglected local concerns

Asim Waqif believes that Globalization brings along with it an array of issues like neglected local concerns. It could be mineral resources which get imported and are no longer available to the local community or the forest cover on top of it. Another problem he thinks which comes with globalization is that it's very disrespectful of other people's practices and beliefs. So, in his works he tries to see if there are some local aspects which can in fact dominate over the global concerns. According to him these concerns are often very capitalist and money-oriented without actually having much to do with life and emotions.

Asim Waqif, Hazard, 2011, bamboo, rope & interactive video, Variable.Courtesy Asim Waqif.