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AMBREEN BUTT
KEER TANCHAK+PIA CAMI
at The Dallas Contemporary
by Todd Camplin

What is the point of The Dallas Contemporary? Several years ago, I would have said it was to
display soul crushing, glitter filled, vacant expressions by people claiming to be artists. Other
times I would have said they were here to attract new people to visual art by inviting artists
that would alienate the established art scene. But somewhere along the way, things have
changed. I have changed as well. I see that the DC functions as a place that shakes things
up in Dallas. For good or ill, the DC takes some crazy risks, showing some popular and unknown
artists that are just bad or just plain amazing. The place seems to always invoke strong feelings
in me, so I am more alive because of what the DC does. The solo shows by Ambreen Butt, Keer
Tanchak, and Pia Camil are DC at its best.
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In the small gallery, Keer Tanchak’s show first caused me to feel a little bewildered and confused.
These were odd little paintings on steel panels. The panels made the art look like she was hanging
the work on refrigerator doors like a parent might do for a child. However, after looking the whole
show over, I read the description on the wall. This compelled me to walk around the gallery again
for a second look. I am glad I did. When I read she was referring to Rococo painting, the work
opened up to me. What makes them even more contemporary is the fact that they seem to
look like Tanchak is representing a kind of underpainting of the period or a painting sketch.
I am still debating the panel choice, but I am on board with paintings.

To your left as you walk into the DC are several spaces with installation pieces and other works
by Ambreen Butt. Her massive wall and floor installations look like Persian Rugs or tiles. On closer
inspection you find little segments of fingers, broken keys, and locks. Ambreen Butt might be
depicting violence and oppression, but the works are fundamentally beautiful. Which leads
me to believe she is optimistic about the long distant future of her native Pakistan. Butt’s works
seem to imply big picture thinking with the full understanding of the little parts that make up a
system. Her text pieces also reflect the dichotomy.  Although the details can be ugly and scary,
the overall projection of many people’s lives still have beauty and meaning amongst the chaos.
Ambreen Butt. Installation view of What is left of me, 2017.
Photo by Kevin Todora
Pia Camil had an epic DC show of her own. Her installations were interactive, playful, colorful,
and just fun all around. She is the kind of artist that brings the average crowd of people, but
unlike some in the past, she doesn’t alienate the local art people. Camil’s content was
powerful with her critique of commodity chains. All those colorful shirts sewn together spoke
about globalization, mass production, graphic design, screen printing, etc, the list can go
on and on. Her other installed textiles referenced geometric minimalism and quilting. Camil
has a wonderful sense of formalism in these works, yet she celebrates the material as well
through draping and folds.

All three shows will be over on August 20th. And I hope those at the Dallas Contemporary can find
it in their hearts to forgive an old curmudgeon like myself when they cause me to have strong
feelings. After all, that is DC’s job and I breath easier for it.

Ambreen Butt. Installation view of What is left of me, 2017.
Photo by Kevin Todora
Keer Tanchak Celine, 2016.
Courtesy of the artist
Pia Camil Espectacular Tempestad, 2015.