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Art and independence

August 24, 2013
An exhibit by Eqbal Mehdi. - Photo by White Star
An exhibit by Eqbal Mehdi. - Photo by White Star
Akram Spaul's artowrk. - Photo by White Star
Akram Spaul's artowrk. - Photo by White Star

KARACHI: A three-day exhibition organised by Grandeur Art Gallery to celebrate Independence Day that opened at the Alliance Francaise Karachi on Thursday carried works of more than 30 eminent artists of the country.

It was heartening to see that among the 60 odd artworks there was also a painting made by the late Eqbal Mehdi.

Although paintings put up by artists were not subject-bound and there were all kinds of exhibits done in all kinds of isms, Akram Spaul stuck to the theme that was being celebrated. The artist’s tribute to the Pakistani flag is marked by the finesse that is the hallmark of his creative pursuits. Ostensibly there is nothing out of the ordinary about the exhibit but, for some reason, the viewer cannot help but peruse the artwork as if it has a latent message in it. There is no need to find out a Jasper Johns-like effort here. The message is positive. The point is: it is a simple image of the flag depicting a day of celebration. And yet, it wows the viewer as if he’s watching the flag anew.

Farrukh Shahab takes the exhibition into another realm. It seems that he is challenging the viewer to be bold and stop being blasé about things. The skull-shaped patchwork is a striking work of imagination. It is not meant to illustrate a point. It is meant to expand on an idea that has plagued the society he belongs to.

Chitra Pritam’s seascapes, with boats and a yellowish sky canopying it, is always a delight to watch as is Tanveer Farooqi’s painting of a demure girl. Obviously, they are not as uncomplicated works of art as described by this writer. They have their innate intricacies because artists want the viewer to see their subjects with eyes whose vision has just been retrieved.

Shakira Masood is known as an expressionist. To be honest, it is difficult to classify her style. She is a socially conscious and aesthetically blessed artist. Her artwork in the exhibition does make the viewer mindful of social evils, but it is her skill and passion to draw that outshines everything else.

The other participating artists were: A.Q. Arif, Imran Zaib, Wahab Jaffer, Romilla Karim, Aamir Khatri, Inam Raja, Mohammad Ali Bhatti, Rind, Kohari, Qamar Siddiqui, Kazim, Ather Jamal, Lal Mohammad Pathan, Sabiha Nasruddin, Khusro Sabzwari, Omar Farid, Ahmad Anvar, Akbar Hafeez, Mazher Qureshi, Ayesha Siddiqui, Abdul Hayee, Mehtab, Shaziq Qaiser, Syed Irfan, Dilawar Mirza, Masood A. Khan and Tariq Luni.