From academic institution displays to commercial art gallery exhibitions, varying levels of thesis art has been crossing platforms with considerable ease of late. But the annual Emerging Talents Show at VM Gallery, Karachi, is the only thesis exhibition that selects the best and the brightest from the graduating classes of art colleges nationwide to give a fair sampling of current evolving trends among fresh entrants.
Peppered with the urge to experiment (wherever it may lead) or to produce something new/different, the existing exhibition comprising graduate art 2012 was layered with multidisciplinary approaches of the artists and included audio/video screenings, digital prints, sculpture and painting.
As is usual to quantum displays it is the show stoppers that first accost the eye. Diverse sculptural manifestations were among the most noticeable. Inspired by children’s outdoor play sets like seesaws and jungle gyms Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, graduate Tehmina Maknojia’s sculptural piece invited interaction as a lively rocking boat. Traditional non-functional stone sculpture by three Central Institute of Arts and Crafts, Karachi, students stood out on account of the primitive, scarcely practised and chiselling technique peculiar to domestic grinding stones.
Seedy and contaminated a large pomegranate sculpture answering to the proverb ‘Aik Anaar Sau Bimaar’ by Amber Ifthikhar of Karachi School of Art, was an oblique comment on socio-political chaos in “the land of the blind, (where) the one-eyed man is lord.” Veering between soft sculpture and mixed media wall hanging, multi-coloured baby socks stitched into a memory collage by Bakh Pirzada of Karachi University (KU) was a tally of precious moments spent with her young son.
Yet another simplistic but noticeable sculpture was ‘Curtain’ by Sarmad Ahfaz Siddiqui, also from KU. A silver metallic sheet moulded into an undulating, floor length curtain was finely incised with filigree pattern.
A figure in the process of praying woven into a multiple image production, ‘The rhythmic configuration’, by Amina El-Edroos of Beaconhouse National University, “focused on the editing process to explore how time and space can be manipulated within the two-dimensional plane of video.”
From production to editing the element of repetition and its linkage to pattern as made visible through her video invited extended engagement. Graduates of NCA Rawalpindi Malgahlara Karim, Xahra Hafeez and Yumna Sadiq opted for digital prints, mixed media works and paper collage creations.
Painting remained a preferred medium of expression among a large number of students. In an effort to alter its traditional look students tried to incorporate 3D elements, mixed media effects and technique distinctiveness to give it a contemporary resonance. Fashioning a circular canvas into triangular cut outs to mimic a fractured mirror or kaleidoscope imagery, Meerab Savio of Fatima Jinnah University, Rawalpindi had painted her introspective inner self.
“Painting the landscape the way a viewer would see it in passing” by Kamran from The Centre of Excellence, Jamshoro, comprised a series of four uneven (narrow at one end and broad at the other) canvases that captured the flash of speed. The twist lay in feeling the swiftness while the blurry landscapes were viewed.
If the aim of degree project is to provide a compelling argument to address a clearly posed question then only a few graduates in the show succeeded — most presented viewable art with emphasis on technical skills and visual peculiarities. The social milieu here is not entirely attuned to the critical and diverse role that the arts and visual culture can play in society — it is active not passive viewership that will energise the state of the arts.