The Taseer Art Gallery, Lahore, recently showcased the work of young artist Annem Zaidi, a recent graduate of the National College of Arts, Lahore. The gallery, earlier known as ‘The Drawing Room Gallery’, has not only been renamed, but relocated to an arty home, where it is surrounded by a lush green environment peppered with artefacts and sculpture pieces. Owned by Sanam Taseer, who has now named it after her late father, Salmaan Taseer, the gallery promises to be a happening spot for art lovers.
Zaidi does seem to be the ‘new kid on the block’, who has caught the attention of a variety of viewers. This was her second solo show, the earlier one being in Malaysia’s Morne Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur, soon after a one-month residency in the East Coast Artist in Residence (ECAIR) programme in Kuantan, Malaysia. This show was very well received with more than half of the total of 10 canvases sold out on the first day.
The paintings, medium to large-sized oil paintings subscribe to a minimalist aesthetic style, which nonetheless catches the viewer’s attention by its bold and striking colour format. Actually it is rather a ‘non-colour’ approach, since the paintings are predominantly made in black and white. The background of all the work is jet black, and on this stands out a figurative discourse, wherein the drapery in tones of white, off white, ochre and brown are the prime indicators of the posture of the feminine figures, which are mostly solitary.
A few lines in reddish hues are used as additional indicators of the pose, which may show a standing, sitting or slouching woman, depending on what mood the artist wishes to convey. Thus ‘Nostalgia’, ‘Narrating nostalgia’, ‘Turn around’, or ‘Being natural is just a pose’, are some of the titles which indicate the theme of Zaidi’s discourse, with the latter most title being the description of the exhibition as a whole. Zaidi uses photographs of models as a source of inspiration for her paintings and it is their poses and attempts at looking ‘natural’, despite the obvious artificiality that forms the basis of her theme.
The painterly effort of the artist is focused primarily on the attire of the female forms. The rendering of the drapery serves to indicate the intended postures, but it does leave something to be desired in terms of softness and gradation of tones that one expects in the depiction of such an object. If the artist were to further perfect this aspect, the impact would be more stunning and mature.
Zaidi has just embarked on her artistic career, and in this regard, seems to be doing well for herself. Further study and practice is likely to enhance her aesthetic prowess and painterly accomplishment and one looks forward to more and even better work from her.