Review: Laila Rahman: New Paintings and Etchings

Laila Rahman: New Paintings and Etchings at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts’ BAG Gallery is the culmination of artist’s residency at the school. Rahman, born in Lahore, Pakistan is the first visiting Fulbright scholar at SMFA and explores religion and myth within contemporary society through gut-wrenching imagery and symbolism.

The exhibition features 22 works which investigate “manipulation, through the exercise of power of strength, of evil [and] of temptation.” The story of Creation, our idea of Heaven and Hell, and the down fall of Pride are re-imagined into provocative and at times unbearable images.

The anguish projected though No Words Written, 2010, Fallen Angel, 2011, Was it Knowledge, Apples or Even Pears?, 2010 is in-escapable. Our imagination of what Heaven and Hell would feel and look like is challenged through the inclusion of mutilated bodies juxtaposed with the light and at times seductive colors on the canvas.

The works completed by Rahman during her residency are all about triggering the viewer’s emotions. The hallway where these works are shown limit the viewer from experiencing the same “journey from within” the artist describes in her statement. These new paintings and etchings are powerful, but the constant walking back and forth by school’s employees and students detract from the works’ potential impact on the viewer.

Laila Rahman: New Paintings and Etchings at the BAG Gallery, 230 The Fenway, Boston is on view until June 30, 2011.

IMAGE: Laila Rahman, Armoured Memories, 2011. Oil and graphite on canvas. 36 x 36 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

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