“Ravaging Gaza is an enactment of vulnerability and destruction skewed together in this mixed media composition of red and black. As I kept seeing images of Gaza ruined, my brush stokes became boisterous. Later the same brush strokes became almost destructive. The land for me is reminiscent of a woman – it blossoms when nurtured and shrivels into decay when besieged. And Ravaging Gaza resonates with a sadness that is not just confined to a particular part of the world but juts out across boundaries wherever there is destruction of land or woman.”
I see myself being ravaged and all I can do is sit and watch,
What can I do I ask myself?
The more I fight, the more I get ravaged,
Is it the enemy ravaging me or my own demons?
Ravaging me bit by bit…
In Ravaging Gaza, visual artist Ayesha Khan explores the disenchantment to create something which is not pleasant. This vertical mixed media work on paper is reflective of the three-week War on Gaza in late 2008 early 2009. Gaza is reflected in my painting as the body of a woman, distorted, as if coming apart. The face is empty. The bold figure sprawled unambiguously and words scribbled on the side almost as if exuding a narrative. The scribbling doesn’t give way to anything, neither is it recognizable. Nevertheless it is there – black, unruly and almost as if charred.
Ghalib, a celebrated poet from the Indo-Pak Subcontinent wrote in Urdu, the English translation of which reads – “I sit determined as if to unleash the storm within.” These are the words in Urdu that have been scribbled onto the composition. Woman is seen in art as the one who symbolizes and allegorizes the body, she is also seen as a fertility figure. The direct representation of this ruined fertility figure and the exaggerated scale of this charred image expose the confrontational side of man-made obliteration – a metaphor to challenge the gaze of the viewer. Polarized politics are still laying blame on who ravaged the woman – the land, nevertheless it was ravaged and we are all responsible for it – weren’t we all witness to it?
Vertical composition on hand made Japanese paper
Oil, acrylic, ink, graphite, charcoal
39 x 18 inches