V1 Gallery is pleased to present

Masar Sohail as Dindy Blaze
An anterospective by Masar Sohail


Masar Sohail as Dindy Blaze is an anterospective; it is bright, energetic debut show with V1 Gallery; it is a new vision in anticipation of a future paradigm; it is quasi-autobiographical; it is an artificial, self-inflicted virus in the mainframe of Masar Sohail’s multimedia practice. Critics may sum it up as rigorously curated highlights from the painterly leg of Sohail’s oeuvre from 2017 to today. Consumers and fans will understand it as a cross-genre, expanded-universe entry in the fragmented cosmos of The Mullah, an ongoing collaboration with Halfdan Pisket (Tranen, DK, 2023). Perhaps Masar Sohail sees it as fanfiction by an alter-ego, or perhaps, Dindy Blaze was always the original artist.

Presenting old and new works on canvas and paper installed in tight formations, Masar Sohail as Dindy Blaze is reminiscent of the Wunderkammer-exhibitions of the past. Four large landscape paintings dominate our view. Created with pastose layers of oil in a grid-like composition, their bulging, fleshy fields of color seem to push towards us, disturbing any semblance of perspective. Smaller works on canvas depict flocks of floating green eyes and gold and blue portals on the verge of collapsing into abstraction. In between them, there are serial pastels on paper depicting cave openings, military drones, robots and Toyota pick-ups in different color variations, almost like a drafted storyboard. Ominously titled Gardens of the Pentagon or Robot in desert, these colorful, offbeat scenes bear relation to the war-torn landscape of The Mullah, a cross-media narrative spanning films, a graphic novel and now paintings. Set in a parallel, sci-fi version of the Iraq War and in an unnamed Western country, The Mullah is a non-linear story which “alludes to familiar notions of East and West”, writes Toke Lykkeberg, Director, Tranen; ”The relationship is caricatured as a battle between a spiritual leader and a cyborg or between a pick-up truck and a drone. There is high-tech progress and science on the one hand, and primordial mystery and spirituality on the other.”

Sohail amplifies the same tension in Masar Sohail as Dindy Blaze by rendering dystopian technological artefacts and redeploying commodified symbols in a vibrant, naïvistic visual language in what could be a Modernist painting presentation. Alongside evocations of ancient deities and archetypal motifs from Indo-European mythologies such as portals, pyramids and the all-pervasive eye, Sohail seems to display the past and future on equal footing. Here, DARPA drones hover in front of abstract bands of color, transforming into objects of veneration, while iterations of Toyota Hiluxes turn into meditative mantras or icons for contemplation. There is yet primordial mystery in painting – a medium which seems to hold supremacy over newer media even in contemporary art. And as much as the artist complicates and subverts our normative sense of the past, present and future, he applies the same anachronicity to the grand narrative of the artist as such. Rather than a retrospective, which typically occurs well into an artist’s career, presenting a coherent biographical timeline, Sohail acknowledges that the painterly leg of his oeuvre has yet to be canonized in the narrative of his practice. By showing archival works in an “anterospective”, he plays on our notions of originality and provenance, as well as our expectations of what constitutes an oeuvre, but in a more optimistic vein, Sohail points to something more than the script itself, an unseen potential that sets the stage for various possible futures. 

Masar Sohail, b. 1982, lives and works in Copenhagen, DK. He holds an MFA from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (2009). Sohail deploys video, graphics and painting in his investigations of identity and alienation, often taking its point of departure in diverging social, cultural and ideological communities. Recent exhibitions include The Mullah, Tranen, Hellerup, DK (2023); Umbruch, Kunsthalle Mannheim, Germany (2019); Low Magic, Center for Contemporary Arts Prague, Czech Republic (2019); Young Danish Art – Forecasting The Future, ARKEN Museum of Modern Art, Ishøj, DK (2019); and Pit in a thicket, Grafikernes Hus, Copenhagen, DK (2017). His work is permanently acquired by SMK The National Gallery of Denmark and Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany. Masar Sohail as Dindy Blaze is his first exhibition with V1 Gallery.

Text by Astrid Wang