Everyone knows what a painting is: paint, pigment or colour applied to a surface. But in Ayan Farah’s hands a painting is much more than just that. In her work that surface often reacts to and records its exposure to light or it might involve a series of fabrics stitched together in a variety of roughly geometrical patterns. And while her paintings are not scientific records, often they are nevertheless a record of the chemistry and environmental conditions of a particular place over a particular time. Ayan Farah’s artworks evade conventional definitions. “I’ve always thought of them as part of an environment,” she says, “not like sculptures but like something that loses physical presence.” The works are how they are – on fabric – in part because that allows them to be portable. Yet wherever you are, however apparently static or fixed the situation, her work seems to say, even when you move away, you still take part of that encounter with you.
- Mark Rappolt