Timeline

Nasser Azam was born in Jhelum, Pakistan in 1963, and moved to London with his parents in 1970. Already by the time of his arrival in the UK he was conscious of his artistic vocation. He began painting seriously in 1980, and in the same year embarked on a business degree at the University of Birmingham.

By 1983, his local reputation as an artist of considerable talent and vision had been established through a number of exhibitions in Birmingham and the West Midlands, including at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. That year he also featured in a BBC documentary, which captured the precocity and rarity of his untrained yet prodigious talent. Yet just as his work and reputation were gathering rapid momentum, Azam decided to divert his attentions away from his artistic vocation towards a career in finance. He did not paint again until 2006.

Azam’s career in banking and financial services did not signify a rupture in his development as an artist, but rather saw his experience and consciousness of the world widen in a distinctive way. His work in finance took him all over the world, and in particular afforded the opportunity to travel extensively through Asia and the Pacific Rim.

During the course of these years, which included an extensive period of living and working in Japan, Azam’s artistic sense of the art world matured into a truly globalised perspective. He was particularly inspired by the Japanese aesthetics of form and these would be brought to bear on his practice when he returned to painting in 2006. The broad range of non-European cultures and forms of visual art that Azam experienced during these years ultimately contributed to the breadth and openness of vision that are characteristic of his recent work.

Azam returned to painting in early 2006 and has since then both re-imagined the visual and thematic motifs of his youth, and sought to extend the frontiers of his professional practice. He became the Artist-in-Residence at the County Hall Gallery in 2007, mounting a major exhibition of early and recent work, and showcasing the more recent directions his artistic journey has taken.

After six months there was a comprehensive rehang of the exhibition and in April 2008 Anatomica opened in the County Hall Gallery. This exhibition revealed a bolder approach to colour and scale in Azam’s paintings, and was greeted by much critical acclaim in the press.

The evolution of Azam’s creative vision has incorporated not only new artistic concerns, but also an exploration of new media in his work. Moving beyond the canvas, his recent forays into sculpture, principally using bronze, have signalled a new artistic adventure, which was revealed most prominently at the unveiling of his sculpture, The Dance, on 21st February 2008. Recent sculptural projects have included work for the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland, in Dublin.

July 2008 marked a further stage in Azam’s artistic adventure, when he led a pioneering creative experiment into the unknown, Life In Space. Climbing aboard a specially modified ILYUSHIN 76 MDK parabolic aircraft, Nasser experienced totally weightless conditions similar to those in space while he completed two new triptychs, Homage to Francis Bacon I and Homage to Francis Bacon II – among his most important work to date.

Homage to Francis Bacon I sold at Phillips de Pury, New York, on 14th November 2008. The work was the second highest bid at Contemporary Art II, selling for $332,500 - fetching $75,000 more than the highest estimate. This is a considerable achievement, particularly in light of this Autumn’s contemporary art auction sales results. Additionally, Azam's painting Intricate Requiem II recently sold for €80,000 in the Sovereign Arts Fund auction at Somerset House in London on 10th October 2008, commanding the highest price on the night.

Homage to Francis Bacon: Triptych II now forms the centrepiece of a new exhibition at County Hall Gallery, to open on 16th January 2009. Also on display for the first time will be a series of exciting new works exploring different states of body motion and tension, inspired by Azam’s extraordinary experience of zero gravity.

Nasser Azam's work as an artist has always produced a very physical and bodily kind of art. His stylistic signature is largely defined by abstract representation of the human form. A masterly technical control of colour and line infuses his paintings of bodily shapes and gestures with a profound emotional intimacy and intensity. The sensuality, fragility, violence and mystery of human experience are powerfully conveyed by Azam’s very painterly concern with formal sophistication. Azam’s recent work as a sculptor essentially extends the dynamic rhythms of his paintings into three-dimensional forms, with the body’s physical and emotional states remaining at the core of their meaning.