Text: Aasim Akhtar
Tassaduq Sohail’s paintings seem to move in a universe of perversity and sacrilege, touching upon all that is taboo, forbidden, hallowed. They draw from the cauldron of life and death, of normality and difference, and make these interchangeable, subjecting the imagery to a kind of diabolical surgery where sacred and profane, pain and pleasure, masculine and feminine are dissolved and transformed, intertwining with one another and creating a forbidden hybrid. In this process the artist takes his role as a creator to the extreme, putting himself in the place of the deity, to give life to a new reality grounded in the suppression of any notion of order or separation. He abolishes differences in order to subvert reality and bind it to the pleasure of transgression. He attacks prohibitions that are based on differences of sex and belief, in order to produce painterly tableaux that bring together freaks and pregnant women, transsexuals and animals, midgets and skeletons, fetuses and dissected skulls which, when combined with objects, landscapes, stage-sets, and backdrops engender a universe of extremes of which Sohail becomes the demiurge.
In assuming the role of creator, the artist establishes his own laws, which may discredit or overturn the common laws. This overturning, however, should not be seen only as licentiousness and deviance, but also as transformation and initiation enabling a return to a primitive state in which distinctions of value were different from today. If, in antiquity, monstrosity and hybrids did not constitute exceptions or arouse fears, but were actually cultivated as wonders and portents, then the same can occur in our present day: thus death, instead of being transformed into a repressed, anguished interdictum, may once again co-exist with life. And the hermaphrodite or androgyne, in all his sexual richness, may come once again to represent an exceptional wholeness, the wisdom from which the oracle springs. The freak must not be ostracized or considered undesirable as a nightmare of existence, but should rather be seen as an intimation of an absolutised sensibility whose mutant conditions or extremities become superior to equipment.