At -20°C in the 800 tonne freezer unit at Billingsgate Market in Londons East End, painter and sculptor Nasser Azam
today (Monday 15 February) tested out artistic materials developed for use in the freezing conditions of the Antarctic. From 20 25 February the artist will complete a major series of nine paintings on the continent.
The artistic trial was the final stage in extensive preparations for the painting expedition in the Antarctic tundra. Billingsgate Market, the largest fish market of its kind in the UK, was chosen for the trial due to its vast cold storage facilities.
Once in Antarctica, Azam will develop motifs relating both to the physical and psychological geography of Antarctica. The works will also draw on themes developed in his previous work, which comprise an extended meditation on the expressive and abstract possibilities of the human form.
Antarctica is the latest manifestation of Azams long-term performance painting project, in which he investigates how the conditions of creation find expression in works of art. In July 2008 Azam became the first artist to paint in zero gravity, a feat accomplished in parabolic flight over Moscow. During these flights he completed two triptychs inspired by Francis Bacon under weightless conditions.
Working in collaboration with Dromlan Antarctic Operations, Azam will be accompanied to Antarctica by a documentary filmmaker to record the project. The paintings will then be showcased in an international touring exhibition following completion of the project.