Tazeen Qayyum: In Parts


Syllabary Exercise, 2020, gouache and ink on acid-free paper, 9 x 12 in. Courtesy of the artist.

In Parts
Tazeen Qayyum

March 29 – April 22, 2023
Opening Reception: Saturday April 1, 2023 | 2-5pm
Artist will be present in the gallery on April 1st, 15th, and 22nd during gallery hours.

The Red Head Gallery is excited to exhibit In Parts by Tazeen Qayyum.

“The cockroach has long served as muse for Tazeen Qayyum: for twenty years the creature has supplied the verbs and adjectives for an idiosyncratic language of expression. The new works in this exhibition present cockroach as syllabary. On pages that may come from a school child’s primer or a calligrapher’s exercise book, cockroach parts, like the strokes in characters or letters, are assembled. They seem to form letters and words, though ones that lie just beyond the grasp of comprehension.

Through these works Qayyum opens many avenues of interpretation. The inscrutable linguistic forms created by the cockroaches hint at the incomprehensibility of languages imposed during the process of establishing colonial rule, and speak to the loss of language that surrounds the movement of immigrants from one country to another. Yet another vein they explore is the inadequacy of the language in today’s immigration parlance, and the invention of terms that only serve to further marginalise non-European racial and ethnic groups. Much like the forms on the exercise pages that fail to produce intelligible meanings, language fails to meet a human need in each of these scenarios.”

– An extract from the exhibition text by Marika Sardar, Ph.D
Independent Curator, Scholar of South Asian and Islamic Art

Fatal if Absorbed, 2009, opaque watercolour and entomology steel pins on wasli (prepared archival paper), 11 x 11 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Tazeen Qayyum (she/her) is a Pakistani-Canadian, multidisciplinary artist based in Oakville. Trained as a miniature painter of South Asian and Persian traditions, Qayyum continues to explore new materials and processes through drawing, installation, sculpture, video and performance. Drawing from complex issues of belonging and displacement within a socio-political context, her art is a way for her to navigate identity and beliefs while living in the diaspora. Exhibiting nationally and internationally, Qayyum’s work is included in several private and public collections, some of which include the The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM); Welt Museum, Vienna, Austria; TD Canada Trust Permanent Collection, Toronto; Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pengzhou, China; The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa; Doris McCarthy Gallery, University of Toronto; National Gallery of Amman, Jordan; and National Art Gallery, Nepal.

The artist would like to thank the Ontario Arts Council for their generous support of her practice and this exhibition.


401 Richmond St West Suite 115, Toronto, ON, M5V 3A8
info@redheadgallery.org | 416 504 5654 | www.redheadgallery.org
Gallery hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 12 – 5 PM
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