Queer Feet - Artist in Focus - Osman Yousefzada - March 2024

Queer Feet - Artist in Focus - Osman Yousefzada - March 2024
Osman Yousefzada, Untitled from the Queer Feet series, 2023, painted textile and found objects. 

Charleston in Firle, the one-time home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, became the nucleus of the bohemian Bloomsbury Group. It was the place where its members met and discussed radical new societal concepts.  Art, Craft, cutting-edge thinking and writing was at the centre of their artistic and philosophical enquiry, inspiring generations of artists. 

The Wolfson gallery at Charleston is currently hosting a solo exhibition of work by a British-born South Asian artist following in this tradition. Osman Yousefzada an interdisciplinary practitioner and writer will be showing until 10 March 2024.

Yousefzada’s approach explores autobiography combined with fiction and ritual. The display features a new series of studies on paper created by the artist during a recent residency at the Birmingham School of Art. The selection of prints is made up of different media and are partly inspired by characters in the Falnama.

The Falnama is a book of omens used by fortune tellers in Iran, India and Turkey during the 16th and 17th  centuries. Individuals seeking insight into the future would turn to a page of the manuscript at random and interpret the text and colourful drawings to predict their upcoming prospects. Depicting powerful intersex guardians, Yousefzada creates these works as talismans or magical objects that protect or heal, and act as support through the immigrant experience. 

His large-scale textiles titled ‘Queer Feet’ feature painted canvases and collaged barricade tape, Afghan, Balouch and Turkish rugs found in Pakistan, as well as found materials that are reminiscent of the embroidery the artist’s mother, a talented artisan, would stitch onto tablecloths. These vibrant canvases are overlaid with depictions of male figures found in 1950s physique magazines, rendered in distinctive and edgy black and yellow hazard tape, representing defiant queer bodies. 

Yousefzada skillfully blends textile craftsmanship and found media with large-scale canvas pieces, incorporating elements of Eastern mysticism to create a unique Western contemporary style that sets the work apart.

Osman Yousefzada is a research practitioner at the Royal College of Art, London and a visiting fellow at Cambridge University. He works across textiles, sculpture, moving image, installation, garment making and performance.  His books explore gender seen through the eyes of a child. In September 2023 he took up the role of Professor of Interdisciplinary Practice at the Birmingham School of Art. His work has been shown at notable international institutions including The Whitechapel Gallery, London; Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (solo 2018); Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Wapping Project, London; Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio; Ringling Museum, Florida; Lahore Museum, Pakistan; Design Museum, London; the Lahore Biennale, Pakistan; and Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh.


Image: Osman Yousefzada, Untitled from the Queer Feet series, 2023, painted textile and found objects. 

Courtesy and ©Osman Yousefzada, Felicity Avenell, Isabel Davis, Wolfson Gallery, Pete Jones and Above Ground Studio (photography) and Renée Pfister Art & Gallery Consultancy 2024