Abdullah M. I. Syed 

Born 1974, Pakistan 

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Abdullah M. I. Syed. Photo: Diego Flores

About Abdullah M.I. Syed 

Abdullah M. I. Syed is a Pakistani-born contemporary artist living and working between Sydney, Karachi and New York. Syed sees art as a transformative expression as well as an obsessive playful activity that oscillates between outward material realities as form and inward imaginative experiences as content. His artistic expressions stem from his readings and observations of human desires, achievements and failures. Syed primarily reflects upon this in his own displacement as a Muslim man having lived in Pakistan, United States, and now Australia. He utilises a variety of mediums and techniques including drawing, sculpture, video installations, performance and texts to examine economies, structures, and performances of power in their myriad forms. Using a dot (nukta) as a starting point, his artworks emerge as a unified expression of the infinite connections between small marks, shapes, objects, and actions that make iconic images, evocative forms, and surrealist structures.

Syed earned a PhD in Art, Media, and Design, 2015, and an MFA, 2009, from University of New South Wales. He also holds a BA in Design, 1999, and a Master of Education, 2001, from University of Central Oklahoma. Syed is a member of eleven collective, Australia. Syed’s work has been featured in both solo and group exhibitions as well as performance events including Infinite Present, Gallery 344, Cambridge, 2018; Khallas, UNSW Galleries, 2018; Waqt al-Tageer, ACE Open, Adelaide, 2018; I don’t want to be there when it happens, PICA, Perth, 2017; Flesh & Blood, Asia Society Museum, New York, 2017, The Flying Buck, AsiaTOPA, Melbourne, 2017; Karachi Biennial, 2017; Between Structure and Matter, Aicon Gallery, New York, 2016; Creative Accounting , Hawkesbury Regional Gallery, Sydney, 2016, WAR, Newington Armory Gallery, Sydney, 2016, and Future Archaeology, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney, 2015. Syed has undertaken artist residencies at: Fairfield City Museum & Gallery , 2016; Parramatta Artists Studios, 2013-2015; Cicada Press, UNSW, 2009 & 2013; and Blacktown Arts Centre, 2011, Sydney. He is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes including the Blacktown City Art Drawing Prize, 2008; Time Olson Drawing runners up cash prize, 2010; Individual Artists of Oklahoma’s 2003 Installation Artist of the Year award and the NAVA Carstairs Prize, 2017.

Abdullah M.I. Syed, 'Nūr-un ‘ala Nūr (Light Upon Light)', 2015, courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery. Photo: Diego Flores

Abdullah M.I. Syed, 'Nūr-un ‘ala Nūr (Light Upon Light)', 2015, courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery. Photo: Diego Flores

Abdullah M.I. Syed, 'Flesh & Blood', 2017, performance documentation, Asia Society Museum, NYC, courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery. Photo: Charlene Wanja

Abdullah M. I. Syed, 'Illuminated Prisms Manuscript I: Pgs. 1 & 2', diptych, 2017, courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery. Photo: Diego Flores

Abdullah M. I. Syed, 'Illuminated Prisms Manuscript I: Pgs. 1 & 2', 2017, detail, courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery. Photo: Diego Flores