Nasser Azam was born in Jhelum, Pakistan in 1963, and moved to London with his parents in 1970. He began painting in 1980, and in the same year embarked on a business degree at the University of Birmingham. In 1983 he also featured in a BBC documentary.
In 2007, after an extended period living and travelling in Japan, America and Europe, Azam became Artist-in-Residence at the County Hall Gallery, with an exhibition of early and recent work. Subsequent exhibitions included the 'Anatomica' series of paintings, made from illustrations taken both from fashion magazines and medical textbooks. In 2012 Azam unveiled "Athena" at Silvertown in the London Borough of Newham. Previous sculptural work includes the large bronze sculpture The Dance, unveiled on the South Bank on 21 February 2008 and work for the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland, in Dublin.
Azam's semi-abstract style of painting has been compared with that of Willem de Kooning. His paintings show the human figure encoded in bio-morphic forms and gestural marks, and typically use a restricted palette.
In 2010 Azam purchased the Morris Singer Art Foundry and relaunched it as the Zahra Modern Art Foundry.
'Performance Painting' Project 2008–10
Many of Azam's works during the period 2008 to 2010 were made as part of the 'performance painting' project. His purpose was to find the most extreme conditions in which to make paintings, and to use a work of art to document the moment and location in which it was made. In July 2008 Azam completed a project he called Life in Space aboard a specially modified ILYUSHIN 76 MDK parabolic aircraft, where he completed two triptychs, Homage to Francis Bacon: Triptych I and Homage to Francis Bacon: Triptych II while the aircraft created weightless conditions similar to those in space. Azam's 'Life in Space' series of paintings was exhibited in London in Spring 2009.
In February 2010 Azam conducted an artistic expedition to Antarctica, where he produced 13 large abstract oil paintings responding to different Antarctic landscapes, including ice lakes, ice caves, glaciers and ice deserts. Azam prepared for the Antarctica trip with a series of artistic trials in the freezers at Billingsgate Fish Market. The expedition was accompanied by a cameraman to document the mission.
In April 2011, Azam, with Art Below, carried out a dual public art display in the Tokyo Metro and London Underground commuters saw a scene of Antarctica and one artist – a dot in the huge icy canvas. In July 2008 Azam completed two triptychs in zero gravity, done as a homage to the artist Francis Bacon. In February 2010, accompanied by a camera crew, Azam to draw inspiration from the frozen tundra of Antarctica where he endured extreme weather conditions to produce a series of large abstract oil paintings. For 2 weeks, Azam's work was on the billboard space of 2 platforms 6000 miles apart in Tokyo's Shibuya station and London's Liverpool Street Station with images of his Antarctica series. Azam commented "I wanted to expose the desolate, silent, spacious and empty environment of the South Pole in probably the most crowded, hectic, busy and noisy space in the world" Accompanying the poster display on the Liverpool Street station platform, Art Below took over a 3 metre wide digital projection screen, piloting an international video link enabling London's travellers to view the Tokyo platform – the poster display and all the public activity going on around it. Playing on the same video loop was a 2-minute film made in collaboration with Bafta nominated British Film Director Ed Blum. Here we see Nasser Azam creating canvasses at temperatures of minus 40 degrees and buffeted by gales, he paints in different settings: on glaciers, by frozen lakes, in ice caves. Nasser says "I am confronted by a magnitude of blinding light, by wind and intense cold." Some of his canvases where lost in an Antarctic gale. But most are here for us to see. Such ordeals need preparation. Azam prepared for this venture in the huge freezer of Billingsgate Butchers Market, devising brushes that would work in such temperatures, and acrylic paint that did not clog. Art Below made the policy decision to persist with this display in Tokyo despite Tsunami, Earthquake and Nuclear fallout. Ben Moore said, "We did this in the sure conviction that Tokyo's commuters will appreciate such a diversion from their adversities. Now is not the time to withdraw our custom." This was the third exhibition they have staged in the Tokyo metro.
- On 27 May 2012, Evolutionary Loop 517, a 6.25-metre bronze sculpture was unveiled alongside the Sir Duncan Rice Library, designed by schmidt hammer lassen architects, for the University of Aberdeen.
- On 5 July 2012 Azam's sculpture Athena was unveiled on the Connaught Bridge Road, Silvertown, London Borough of Newham. At just over twelve metres high, it is the tallest bronze sculpture in the United Kingdom. Athena was made at the Zahra Modern Art Foundries, Braintree, Essex.
- On 10 February 2010 Azam's monumental sculpture, The Dance was moved from the County Hall Gallery to an adjacent newly opened hotel, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge.
- Azam's monumental bronze sculpture Sepian Blue was exhibited at Sculpture in Context, Ireland's largest exhibition of public sculpture held at the Botanic Gardens outside Dublin, and is now part of the Botanical Garden's permanent collection and displayed at the entrance to the gardens.
- As part of the nationwide Big Dance 2008 event the County Hall Gallery hosted an outdoor dance event on Sunday 6 July 2008. 'Sculpture in Motion' was a physical response to Azam's sculpture 'The Dance' on the South Bank.
Selected solo exhibitions
- Azam: Antarctica – London Underground & Tokyo Subway,11 to 25 April 2011
- Colour over Form, County Hall Gallery, London, 5 June to 27 September 2009
- Life in Space, County Hall Gallery, London, 16 January to 29 April 2009
- Azam Painting and Sculpture, Istanbul, Contemporary Art Fair, October 2008
- Paintings and Bronzes, County Hall Gallery, London, August to September 2008
- Anatomica, County Hall Gallery, London, Summer 2008
- Azam Retrospective, County Hall Gallery, London, Autumn 2007
- Recent Works, The University of Aston, West Midlands, UK, 1983
- The View, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham, UK, 1983
- "Summer and Winter Exhibitions" Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, 1983
- Nasser Azam, University of Birmingham, UK, 1982
- In October 2009 Azam participated in the debate 'Art: what's it good for?' chaired by Michael Portillo and part of the LCACE Inside Out Festival.
- In September 2009 Azam participated in Liliane Lijn's contemporary art performance piece Power Game at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.
- Stonard, John-paul (April 30, 2008). Azam: A Short History of Sensation. Airside Publications. ISBN 0955712602.
- The Independent on Sunday, Arts Review, Close-Up Nasser Azam, 4 January 2009
- "Nasser Azam, Esq Authorised Biography - Debrett's People of Today". debretts.com.
- "BBC Interview, 23 March 1983 - Nasser Azam". YouTube.
- "Anatomica Cognitive compulsion by Nasser Azam on artnet". artnet.com.
- "Sculpture in Context - Contemporary Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition". sculptureincontext.com.
- Stonard, Azam: A Short History of Sensation, London 2008
- Dahabiyeh, Nadia (7 July 2008). "Painter prepares for art in space". BBC News.
- "Art Below Zero". London: independent.co.uk. 19 April 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- "ArtBelow". artbelow.org.uk.
- "Liverpool Street Tube station unveils video artwork". BBC News. 5 April 2011.
- Humphries, Will (5 July 2012). "Tallest bronze sculpture in UK unveiled". The Daily Telegraph (London).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nasser Azam.|
- Official website
- BBC article and video of the Zero Gravity project
- Guardian video footage of Nasser Azam in zero gravity