Swamped in the concrete and tarmac of Karantina, Art Lounge has been transformed into a jungle within, with odd-looking creatures swarming over the venue’s walls.
Comprised of 19 paintings and nine papier-mâché sculptures created by 29-year-old Swedish artist Ana Pajevic (aka Aki Zum), “Aki Jungle” places onlookers before a psychedelic, cartoon-like, at times hypnotizing, version of primordial habitat.
“The jungle is primitive,” Aki Zum said. “The jungle is the way it is, and these works are the way they are. We just have to let them be.”
The artist characterizes her style to be “very bold and intuitive.” It is hard to disagree.
True to its title, “Big Tiger” (200 cm x 150 cm) represents a large orange feline. It bares its fangs and looks straight at viewers, its huge bright blue eyes possessed of human pupils.
The dark purple background wash and the diminutive patch of green (grass? a shredded bath mat?) framing the beast clash with the blast of yellows and oranges that compose the feline.
The title of the show may be the jungle, but it’s clear that Aki Zum is more disposed toward fauna than flora. The dual juxtapositions – between the dark background and the big cat’s vivid coloring on one hand, and the diminutive green relative to the size of the beast – highlights the artist’s bias.
“It is a world of its own,” said Aki Zum. “It comes from my guts.”
The artist’s eight acrylic-on-paper portraits find their subject in the faces of Aki Zum’s creatures. These works are as fanciful in their rendition of the feline visage as they are in the depiction of their settings. Rather than approximations of rainforest greenery, onlookers find bare colorfully cartoon-ish lines and shapes.
The fangs of each creature are prominent in these depictions, which makes them as aggressive as a villain in a Saturday morning cartoon. The vivid colors and the animals’ cartoonish features underline how these jungle creatures have been domesticated by Aki Zum’s brand of whimsy.
The works in “Aki Jungle,” in the words of Aki Zum’s artist statement, are her effort to “create [her] view of what an Aki Jungle looks like and the creatures that live in it.”
Another corner of Art Lounge has been turned over to a display of nine papier-mâché masks, adding a further dimension to the theme of big, staring feline-ish eyes. They are peculiarly hypnotizing. The artist explained that she used to paint and draw. Then, rather suddenly, she craved a three-dimensional representation of her jungle. These masks were her means of giving life to her desire.
“I would be, in a way,” she said, “in this world.”
Aki Zum’s representation of her jungle critters in these masks is redolent of religious folk art in various parts of the world – the sort of thing you might associate with Balinese folk ritual, for instance. The country’s barong masks often represent animals like lions and tigers, depictions of strength, power and protection.
These bulging-eyed figures too bare the teeth prominently, not unlike those in Aki Zum’s artwork. Yet unlike the masks used in the religious folk art of most cultures, the artist explained, her masks represent the strength of her unordinary creatures.
“Aki Jungle” is a colorful, intuitive microcosm of Aki Zum’s jungle of emotions, which visitors are free to infiltrate.
Aki Zum’s “Aki Jungle” is up at Karantina’s Art Lounge until June 16. For more information, please call 03-997-676.
From / Daily Star