Chase Contemporary is pleased to announce it’s first solo exhibition with Atlanta-based painter Imani Bilal. Behind the Veil: Musings of Muraqaba is a collection of new abstract works by Imani Bilál centered around concepts of mindfulness and meditation. The paintings to be exhibited exude explosive, enigmatic energy that traverse and celebrate the many phases of meditation. The show will open in the gallery’s East Hampton location on July 23rd and run through August 8th. The exhibition will then travel to the gallery’s Manhattan location from August 12th- August 29th.
Behind the Veil: Musings of Muraqaba focuses on the Islamic/Sufi concept of “Muraqaba” (Meditation), a term translating to the act of taking care of or watching over. It implies that with meditation, a person tends to their spiritual heart and soul, and through this process acquires insight about itself, its surroundings, and its creator. In ancient Arabic, the word murāqabah referred to one who would watch the night sky. They would scan the sky in hopes to see the first signs of early stars to begin their journey.
Bilal’s canvases, with their glistening resin surfaces acting as barriers between the viewer and the undulating shapes and colors below, take on the characteristics of a mirror. Each color, stroke, and smear that Bilal paints collectively become an expression of this introspection and a journey into the spiritual world. The viewer is able to see not only a slight reflection of their physical self, but Bilal hopes they will also find reflections of their inner selves within the painting.
Bilal cites major second generation Color Field painters such as Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis as inspirations – through technique, composition, and palette. Much like these titans of the movement, her technique starts with diluting paint which is then applied onto the canvas. She takes an active role in the whole process, laying the canvas down and using any angle she feels is necessary. Bilal is constantly making compositional decisions about where her colors should go, how they move, and how they react with one another. On the one hand, she technically channels Frankenthaler and Louis, while also remaining conceptually true to the founders of the Color Field movement – Rothko, Newman, Still – by expressing a yearning for transcendence and the infinite.
Imani Bilal was born in 1983 in New York City., having moved to Atlanta, GA in 2019. She is a single mother of two and proudly represents a small community of Black Muslim American women who push the boundaries of contemporary art. Bilal’s work stems from her devout relationship with her religion – Islam. She paints to capture elements of the Islamic concept of “Ruh”, or inner soul, as well as to express herself, communicate with others, and evoke powerful emotional responses from her viewers.