Tasleem Mullhall at 50 Brook Street
In a fittingly intimate gallery in Mayfair, Tasleem Mullhall’s eclectic exhibition is an oasis of feminine pensiveness. Yemeni in origin, she first came to London at the age of 15. She brought thoughts on patriarchal gender divides, coming of age experiences and a keen reading of identity with her, all of which she communicates and eloquently captures within her work.
Sculpture is Mullhall’s most comfortable medium – one to which she says she is particularly drawn, both emotionally and physically. Materials such as driftwood and barbed wire are evocative and highly allegorical in their understated presence in her sculptures, somewhat nostalgic but used in a way that breathes restriction and oppression through hushed female lips.
Although there are several purely two-dimensional canvas works on display, a good number of her paintings include heavily layered textural work, giving the impression of a message that cannot be contained within a neat, smooth-surfaced frame. This restriction is shown with great power in Free Me and Without Identity, two mixed media works on canvas exhibited side by side, which depict faceless, genderless figures bulging desperately from an oppressive grey layer that shrouds them in anonymity.
Her more traditional paintings are poignant, sharing a certain kind of intimacy – the emotion within the varying styles demonstrated here is captivating. Recurring political themes combined with a sense of both feminine strength and weakness simultaneously characterise Mullhall’s work; Jemila stands out as a haunting comment on female vulnerability and a yearning for freedom, the shadowed male presence tellingly oppressive in the darkened recesses of the painting.
Mullhall is an extremely diversely skilled artist, demonstrating various modes of expression in curious harmony. Chaotically abstract canvases thrive among carefully lined works of precision, her tactile and often extremely personal approach running a tight thread through this diversity, and pulling together the exhibition with panache.
Photos: Erol Birsen
Tasleem Mulhall’s exhibition at 50 Brook Street was a pop-up event that took place from 1st November until 3rd November 2013. For further information and future events visit Tasleem Mulhall’s website here.