Those of you, who despair that Pakistan lacks new talent in the realm of art, time to have that beaming smile. Pakistani art is alive and kicking, and fresh talent is doing its bit in a pretty convincing fashion. They may be young, but they are full of ideas, zest and flair. To gauge the verity of the claim, a visit to Karachi’s Canvas Gallery would have sufficed where an exhibition of two young artists’ work titled, ‘Haal’ was held from recently. The pair, Raheela Abro and SM Raza, pleasantly surprised a good number of art lovers who saw the display.
Abro and Raza are Karachi University graduates. The work that they exhibited pertained to the present (haal), that is, the era that both artists have seen, witnessed and experienced. Naturally, there’s an element of anxiety and agony in their work, which is born out of the (easily) inflammable socio-political situation that society seems to have been in the grip of for the last three to four decades. Therefore, both artists dealt with the same subject, albeit in different styles.
Abro’s miniature pieces look at the myriad of voices that one gets to hear through a variety of channels. The word ‘channel’ does not refer only to television networks. It is because of these incessant sounds that she opts for ‘dog’ as a symbol and utilises it to convey her message pretty effectively. ‘Talk show’ (oil-on-sim) and ‘Bolti band’ (oil-and-acrylic on sim) are a no-brainer. They refer to the extremely opinionated people, known or common folk, that one sees and hear wax (in)eloquent on socio-political matters without coming up with steps that can lead to resolution of issues. ‘Bhonkna mana hai’ (oil-on-sim) and Jalsa (oil-and-acrylic-on-sim) hit the same target with more vigour and certitude.
Raza takes the viewer on a fascinating journey of a society that he has seen decay materially as well as spiritually. He starts off with ‘Greenness’ (charcoal and water colour) and ‘Greenery’ (water colour, charcoal-on-ink) to provide the viewer with a perspective of the kind of environment he lives in. He then moves towards larger issues and strikes gold with an untitled piece (pencil, water colour and ink) which is just as contemporary in form as it is traditional in content. Four duplicitous men are speaking to an audience; the microphones that they are using are shaped like corncobs, and the word ‘corn ference’ can also be seen in the painting. It is a wonderful work of art whose meaning cannot be lost to anyone.
Raza’s other exhibits like ‘Kis ne maara kon mara’ (mixed media-on-paper) makes the viewer appreciate his craft too.