Laylah Ali

Layal Ali paints cartoons as she does not find it unusual for things to be two dimensional. Ali does not use this as an escapist fantasy as the things that she paints are too connected to the world and her life. She collects images and files them into categories that are influential to her work – hand gestures, for example, are important, especially thumbs and the part they play in hand gestures.
A detailed notebook of thing to do that day is constantly carried around by Ali. This control is continued through the use of paint brushes, as she keeps one brush to one colour. She also uses gouache, which is a frustrating medium to use, but it is very rewarding. Colour swatches and combinations are kept everywhere, to ensure the correct colour combinations are used. With the use of the colour swatches, Ali prepares her work up to month in advance.
The creations, for her, are not necessarily creatures, but they still hold lots of power. The way she works to create them, it very much like reading or writing – you can be intimately involved like you are in a book. Through each of the characters, there is a complexity in the psychology of the facial expressions. They are not studies to capture something that may not be international.
Ali uses a wide range of facial colours and enjoys the psychology behind these and the confusion of colour. She is more interested in the moments before and after violence, rather than the moment that which the violence takes place. Through her paintings, and in collaboration with actors, she has been able to put this into a performance. Her works are used as a score, but they don’t necessarily tell the director of this what to do. Through this, the motif of balls comes into play; basketballs and net-balls in particular. This comes from her childhood in which dodge-ball was used at school to beat up the weakest.
Belts have also come alive through both paintings and the performance work as they represent power and domestic violence. Ali also significantly mention that they are taken away from those in prison. From here, it feels like it comes from a lack of control as a child – so Ali tries to control her work yet it still defies her. Ali wishes to push her work out of expectation when bringing her work into performance.
I enjoyed watching the transition from painting into performance, and the way in which the paintings were used as direct inspiration for a score. The element of the unexpected was definitely felt through this transition, and is a key aspect that I wish to bring into my work at the present time.

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