300 – Alia Lootah


Alia Lootah, 300 (detail), 2017. Acrylic on 300 wooden cubes, 7 x 7 x 7 cm each. Commissioned by DUCTAC.

300 has grown out of a long term series of self-portraits. The series began in 2009 and has always been motivated by questions of self-reflexion. This mode of self-examination becomes transformative as different perceptions – across moods, across time – are applied and the self-rendering is shaped and realised differently. 

The process always begins with a photograph which is then transformed – sometimes into a painting or, as in this instance, into an installation. Whatever the end result, the first move is the same: the image is reduced or decomposed into its fundamental constituent elements, what I call the "bare" elements of form and colour. This motion of reduction is also, almost counter-intuitively, a revelatory movement towards realisation – making the intangible, tangible. 

The process is layered with questions: What is the 'truth' found in a photograph? What is the 'truth' found in a painting? 

By decomposing the image into its bare elements of form and colour, the subject depicted becomes raw, taking on a bold physical form. The attempt is to bring the portrait closer to reality – to extrapolate the information to better grasp the essence, to understand what constitutes an image so familiar yet, equally, so alien.