Highway to Heaven, Aamir Habib
Adios Pakistan, Ardeshir Cowasjee, Taqi Shaheen
When viewing art from new perspectives, one relates to the advances in development of electronic technologies. With the availability of new technologies, artists are able to merge diverse genres into new art forms. New media art began in the 1980s and continues to develop with the new technology creating diverse forms of art. A brilliant example of the freedom of expression available to creative artists is proven in the artworks of Aamir Habib and Taqi Shaheen, who recently exhibited their work at the Canvas gallery, Karachi titled, ‘Drawn Attack’.
Taqi Shaheen, graduated from the National College of Arts, Lahore in 2003. He is a visual artist based in Karachi, who creates paintings, audiovisual installations, films and performances. His work crosses mediums and defies genre distinctions to fashion, witty, curious observations of contemporary Pakistani culture and its social issues and political scenario. The artist uses multiple images in his digital work, scanning drawings with painted areas acting as background to the diffused multiple photo images. His work must be explored at length to understand and enjoy the subtle creativity laced with numerous layers of thought and expression.
Entering the gallery one was greeted with a marvellous, whimsically smiling portrait of the late Ardeshir Cowasjee titled, ‘Adios Pakistan’ created from text used in an email by the political journalist. Cowasjee had received an email from a regular reader abroad who asked his opinion on whether he should return to Pakistan. He replied, “Hijack the drone and go go go.” From this text and signature Habib had fashioned the portrait, using the lettering just as in Cowasjee’s email.
‘Anatomy of a painter 1 and 2’ are seemingly delicate patterns with an overall lacy appearance. Yet on closer examination, one discovers the work is created from the microscopic image of red blood cells. The pattern is contrived with the symbolic presence of drones in flight.
Referring to an artwork titled, ‘Starry Night’ in which symbols of destruction created star like points, Habib notes that “Vincent may have had it better”! Shaheen’s work expressed his concerns with life as he observes it. In a powerful montage titled: ‘Some days are better than others’, there is a great deal going on; uncontrolled violence sullying the urban landscape. It is an extensive art piece with countless images. One discovered images of rangers, fire-men, bearded fellows and children with guns. There is fire throughout; the innocent attacked without reason, and retaliating by setting fire to tyres, cars and buses in their hopeless sense of frustration.
Shaheen states that “the art piece was so extended that he had countless photos to include and many to discard”. In fact so much work was entailed that he had other artworks going on and went back frequently to work refreshed on his major composition. Here I was reminded of Ahmed Parvez and Bashir Mirza who frequently worked on several canvases at a time. Though art will diversify and times change, the links will remain through generations of artistic sensitivities.
The exhibition has much to offer to art buffs and the two artists are determined to keep cost of the work affordable for less affluent enthusiasts.
Talented multimedia artist and sculptor Aamir Habib left his home in Kohat to acquire an art education at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture; graduating with a BFA in 2003. For several years he worked as a set designer as well as focusing on his artwork and now concentrates solely on his art. In his stunning artworks there is a strong sense of design artistry, which underlies the socio-political theme of the artist’s work.
To explain a few examples of the artist’s pristine work: ‘Playing on thin ice’ is the title of an art piece that will never allow the viewers to forget the horrific, senseless killing of a band of innocent mountaineers from several countries who set out to climb the Nanga Parbat. In the artist’s work composed of photo print and acrylic, the beautiful mountain is imploded with clouds of smoke, and minute figures tumble down the mountain into a vacuum.
‘Everybody loves flowers’ is a finely perceived installation with laser cut flowers carved from acrylic decorating a photo print landscape image. Here the mountain shown, was in the initial stages, sculpted by Habib out of clay. “Everybody loves flowers,” says the artist, “and now we can only give them as condolence.”
‘Highway to heaven’ is composed of photo print, acrylic and LED lights. Here an uneven line represents heartbeats across the beauty of a mountainous landscape.
Habib’s art has been appreciated in local exhibitions and abroad. His work is in the collection of Scope Basel, Switzerland, and he has captured the interest of the New Positions AB Gallery, Switzerland, who are currently including his work in an exhibition of five international artists to be shown in Doha, Qatar and New York.
As quoted by the renowned new media artist, Nam June Paik: 'Technology has become the body’s new membrane of existence …’