Born in Pakistan and today based between Lahore and Amsterdam, visual artist Basir Mahmood (b. 1985) is known for using media such as video, film and photograph to create poetic sequences that contemplate embedded social and historical terrains of the ordinary as well as his personal milieu. The narratives of his work are often based within and around everyday objects, gestures, situations and events. They explore the spaces that stretch between identity, distance, memory, fantastical imagination of others, and a melancholy that derives from social injustice and inequity as well as from social structure and hierarchy. Here, Mahmood explores his own position as an artist by adopting multiple roles including: as an author who writes narratives; an initiator who sets in motion collisions of people and improvised scenarios to create original stories; as an observer who teleports in or out of the everyday situations he is observing to see intimately from within and from without; and as a withdrawn subject, for example as a disengaged onlooker on a main street.
His career began with a year-long fellowship at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany in 2011. Thereafter, he went on to participate in artist residencies in five different countries, including, and most notably, at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in 2016-17.
Mahmood has received accolades from around the world for his work. He has received grants, such as the Sharjah Art Foundation Production Programme Grant, Sharjah (2016) and Stipendium for Established Artists, Mondriaan Fonds, The Netherlands (2018-22); and, awards, including Sesc_Videobrasil residency prize, Brazil (2013), Emerging Artist Award SAI Harvard University, USA (2015), shortlist at The Abraaj Group Art Prize (2016), VISIO Young Talent Acquisition Prize, Italy (2017), Paulo Cunha e Silva Art Prize, Portugal (2020), and Ammodo Tiger Short Award, Film Festival Rotterdam, The Netherlands (2021). His works haves been widely shown, including at The Garden of Eden, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); Inaugural Show of Broad Museum, Michigan State University (2012); Asia Pacific Triennial (APT 7) at Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane (2012); Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Russia (2012); Sharjah Biennial 11, UAE (2013); Des hommes, des mondes at college des bernardins, Paris (2014); Time of others, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (2015); Abraaj Group Art Prize show, Dubai (2016); Yinchuan Biennial, Yinchuan, China (2016); Contour Biennale 8, Mechelen, Germany (2017); Tableaux Vivants, Foundation Etrillard, Paris, (2017); Freedom of Movement, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2018); 10th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, Germany (2018); Karachi Biennale 2 (2019); Innsbruck International Biennial, Austria (2020); Lahore Biennale 2, Pakistan (2020) and EURASIA- A landscape of mutability, M HKA – Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerpen, Belgium (2021).
Besides being part of various private collections, Mahmood's works have been acquired by the Queensland Art Gallery collection in Brisbane, Australia; The Centre national des arts plastiques (National Centre for Visual Arts, Cnap), France; M HKA – Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerpen, Belgium; FRAC (Fonds régional d'art contemporain) Bretagne, France and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
Finally, Mahmood remains an academic who teaches and delivers talks at notable art institutions around the globe, and has served as Curator of Stedelijk Museum Video Club x IDFA, Amsterdam, Netherlands, in 2018.