Ahmad Siyar Qasimi’s Lygtefører shows a landscape illuminated by a dark figure holding a bright electric torch. The clear sky in the background has a slight orange glow, perhaps a reflection of city lights. The title refers to the figure standing face to face with a solid wall of something that is at once familiar and unfamiliar.

Each of the brushstrokes in Quasimi’s painting is in itself abstract, and together, they give shape to a living landscape with an underlying drama that conveys the dual experience of being in control yet also in direct confrontation with one’s own limitations.

Press photo in oil paint

Ahmad Siyar Qasimi’s work often revolves around the contrast between beauty and tragedy. The specific inspiration for Lygtefører came from press photos of Mexican border patrols, who use powerful electric torches in their search for refugees. With painterly precision, Qasimi captures the looming dread of the stark electric light on an impenetrable wall.

Small, light brushstrokes conjure up a vivid landscape and highlight the encounter of nature’s aesthetic and the raw existentialism of the refugees’ movement through the landscape. Applying one colour at a time, Qasimi’s intensely saturated colours mix on the canvas and in the viewer’s eye.

Flemish inspiration

In recent years, Qasimi has been working with genre paintings, drawing inspiration from Flemish still lifes and their tradition of decorative and allegorical aspects with an extrasensory quality. In Qasimi’s work, the allegorical aspects are classical metaphysical references. Instead, they refer to the phenomenological sensory experience of the painting itself, its meaning emerging through its presentation, presence and contemporary nature.

About Ahmad Siyar Qasimi

Ahmad Siyar Qasimi (b. 1986) was born in Kabul, trained at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and lives and works in Copenhagen. His paintings draw on imagery from advertising, the Internet, computer (combat) games, film and TV. In Qasimi’s work, the many different image fragments coexist, blurring the distinction between images from computer games and terrorist propaganda. Qasimi examines the sensory nuances in our radically altered reality and its complex and unstable relationship with fiction.

Qasimi has exhibited at Arken, Galleri Tom Christoffersen, the Round Tower and Kunsthal Charlottenborg, among other venues, and represented Denmark at the JCE Biennale 2017–2019.