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UK Artist Completes Major Antarctic Performance Painting Series

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Painter and sculptor Nasser Azam has returned to the UK having endured temperatures of -30°C (wind chill of -45°C) and battled winds as high as 100kph, whilst completing a series of large-scale paintings in the Antarctic tundra. 

Over the course of a nine days on the continent (20–28 February), Azam produced a total of 13 paintings in response to a variety of frozen landscapes. The works were painted outdoors using specially designed brushes, canvas and non-freezing paints. 

Working in situ, Azam executed a series of monumental canvases on an ice desert, an ice lake, an ice cave and a glacier. The paintings were left out overnight at each location for the elements to contribute to the compositions. The harsh conditions of the ice desert proved hazardous and four canvases were lost in high winds during the night. A special search mission two days later retrieved one of the lost canvases. 


The abstract motifs of the Antarctica series are informed by Azam’s physical and psychological response to this harsh and desolate environment. The works also draw on themes developed in his previous work, which comprise an extended meditation on the expressive and abstract possibilities of the human form. 

Azam said, “It was impossible to prepare completely for this project, and I couldn't have predicted how tough the conditions were going to be. But I was able to complete most of the paintings as planned, and hope that they convey at least some of the amazing beauty of Antarctica. I can't wait for them to go on display in London and in other locations around the world'. 

Azam prepared for the Antarctica trip with a series of artistic trials in the freezers at Billingsgate Fish Market. The expedition was accompanied by a cameraman to document the mission. 

Nasser Azam’s Antarctica paintings are due to be showcased in an international touring exhibition later in the year.
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