Sixth Annual IAAC 2009 Erasing Borders Exhibition of Contemporary
Indian Art of the Diaspora

Amin Rehman

Amin Rehman

Artist Statement

For the past five years Amin Rehman's work has investigated, local and global, environmental and political issues ranging from the influence decades of foreign occupation has on culture, to international affects on civil liberties that have come from 9/11, and now his latest series of paintings and installations Power Tools references an exploration and expression of the effects of trans-nationalism and globalization in the world today. It also looks into the theories of post colonial period, consumer culture, and capitalism by examining the economical, environmental and cultural affects of global trade and its relation to the aggressive globalization.

Power Tools offers a strong commentary on exploitation of cheap labor in parts of South Asia for ship breaking and hazardous wastes - including PCBs, asbestos, lead and oil. For the workers in developing nations the opportunity to work in the ship breaking yard often means the only chance at survival. And yet for the workers and their environment breaking old ships can have deadly consequences. This work speaks to current environmental issues around the globe and especially in the South Asian region, which is being developed as a new centre of world business. His work utilizes the graphic and informational qualities of print media and Pop Art, combining it with South Asian references. This is a series of site-specific installation/digital works with respect to the aggressive globalization.


I am primarily a painter whose work comprises of works on paper, canvas, board and wall hung installation. My multidisciplinary training in art, design and curatorial studies at the National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan (1982) and the University of Manchester, UK (1988) prepared me with a strong aesthetic sensibility and specific skills in mixed-media encaustic painting.

My work has been shown in over 80 art exhibitions both locally and internationally in solo, juried, and group art exhibitions including the project room, main gallery at Queen's Quay Harbourfront Toronto (August 2008), "Urban Myths & Modern Fables" (September 2007) in University of Technology, Sydney, Australia, "Forth Biennial of Islamic Contemporary Painting" (2006) Tehran, Iran "Hart House Juried show" (2006), J M Barnicke Gallery, University of Toronto, where his work was awarded second place; "Contemporary iniatures and New Art Forms"(2006), Commonwealth Games Cultural Festival Exhibition, Melbourne, Australia; "Creative Insecurity" (2004) at the Harbourfront Centre on our sense of security after 9/11; "Working Bodies" (1991), Toronto series on the social ills resulting from the cultural practice of prostitution; and "From Images to Images" (1988) based on the miniature collection, Victoria and Albert Museum England.

I received a British Council Fellowship to study in History of Art Department, University of Manchester, England in1988, Smithsonian Internship in Washington D.C in 1988. Ontario Arts Council exhibition grants in 1991/93/96/2007, Honorable Mention in Scarborough Arts Council 17&18 Juried Art Exhibitions, 2002/03 and "Artist of the year award for 2005" by SAVAC and 2nd Prize in Hart House Juried Show, J M Barmicke Gallery, University of Toronto in 2006. In the last five years text has dominated my art practice. Language, itself a system of authority that creates meaning, is used as formal device and conveyor of message in my work.

For Erasing Borders, I will be showing my work in progress titled Power Tools based on the stories and current environmental issues surrounding the ship breaking industry in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh which are the major ship breaking countries in South Asia. The work references current environmental issued around the globe and especially south Asian region which is being developed as a new centre of world business. I ignore grammatical rules; removing spaces between words and dropping punctuation to disrupt communication. The viewer only becomes aware of the meanings of the words on careful inspection.

Another series of works titled, Power Tools, comments on language and the power of print media coverage of the recent war in Iraq. In these pieces, bold text statements or slogans function as image. I ignore grammatical rules by removing spaces between words and dropping punctuation to disrupt communication. The viewer only becomes aware of the meanings of the words on careful inspection.

My other recent work tilled People Things Places, was installed in "Big Stories, Little India", a site-specific art exhibition in Gerrard Street East in India Bazaar. I used phrases to link and uncover the historical significance of some of the names of the major establishments in the neighborhood. Names such as Kohinoor, and Siddhartha are commonly found around the Gerrard India Bazaar, however their historical significance is lost upon the passerby. My work not only informs the viewer of such history, but also offers visually compelling work that reminds us that history is continues to be present in our daily lives.


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