Based in Hackney, east London, Abid Javed is a molecular-biology researcher as well as an artist. As such, he predominantly draws the influence for his ceramic pieces from the fascinating shapes and patterns he uncovers in the intricate world under his microscope. His impressive array of sculptural forms, termed, “molecular objects,” are all hand-built, combining pinch, coil and slab methods of forming in a range of clay bodies to bring each work’s tangible, visual language to life. Unique as his sculptures are themselves, Javed recently sat down with Galerie Perrie’s Gabé Hirschowitz to answer her questions about his process, inspiration and more.
Gabé: What’s your earliest memory of creating art?
Abid: I started drawing at a young age, but as for creating ‘art,’ my earliest memory would probably be when I was in high school and experienced the magic of painting with oils for the first time. It was a study I did of one of Claude Monet’s impressionist paintings–an assignment, yes, but also an epiphany.
Gabé: What unexpected experiences/ ideas/ things inspire you?
Abid: In terms of unexpected experiences, the experience of weather or seasonal change, or the very experience of change itself. One example is the recent global pandemic (Covid-19): it not only continues to affect us and change how we live, but the virus continues changing. This idea of change was the basis for my current body of work, ‘Pleomorphs.’ Conceptually, I love the idea of engineering, be it engineering tools, spaces or biology, and arriving at positive results. More generally, though, I am fascinated with everyday objects, from forks to moss-covered stones to the symmetry of a sliced tomato. This somehow all translates into my sculptural work.
Gabé: Describe your process: what unique things do you have to do to make the work happen?
Abid: I do love my coffee, admittedly. That usually kickstarts it all, gets me into the headspace of getting organized. Typically, I then put on a music playlist or a podcast to keep me going with some sound in the background and I begin the day. Depending on the agenda, I gather my tools or sketches and begin either preparing clay, working up forms in raw clay, or dry sculpting a semi-dry hollow form. The process of making involves pinching and coiling my materials into an intended form. It all involves lots of patience. In cases where I have to prepare coloured clay, this is done in advance, to ensure the pigments are properly blended.
Gabé: How would you characterize your artistic esthetic–in five words?
Abid: Biomorphic, Simplistic, Earthy, Sci-fi, Dynamic
Gabé: You are deserted on a remote planet; what three things do you need to keep your sanity?
Abid: Water, a sketchbook with pencil, clay
Gabé: Who influences you creatively?
Abid: Jean Arp – for uncovering playfulness in pure form; Brancusi – for the scale and modularity; Pablo Picasso – the guy really was a genius; Valentine Schlegel – for embracing the art of handbuilt organic forms; Henry Moore – for exploring and connecting us with nature; Isamu Noguchi – for sheer simplicity; Issey Miyaki – for the elements of dynamics; Mugler – for the rawness
Gabé: If you had a time machine, which period in art history would you visit and why?
Abid: Definitely the 20th century – that was creatively and scientifically a booming period.
Gabé: What’s the best exhibition/show you’ve ever seen (not including your own)?
Abid: Hard to narrow down but two I recently went to see were Ryoji Ikeda’s show at 180 Strand (London) on data visualization with sound and Isamu Noguchis retrospective at Barbican (London) – a pure visual feast.
Gabé: What three living artists would you like to have a group show with?
Abid: Dima Srouji, Riyoji Ikeda and Sofia Eriksson.
Gabé: What would you be doing right now if you weren’t an artist?
Abid: Mostly likely research – my academic soul wouldn’t let me go so easily. If not art or science, I would probably be researching ‘something.’