Summer (E)scape

Published June 5, 2014
Presence of Absence (solid cones) by Arshad Faruqui.
Presence of Absence (solid cones) by Arshad Faruqui.

KARACHI: While big exhibitions, in terms of number of artworks on display, can cause the viewer lose interest for they may feel there’s too much to choose from, it allows them to get the hang of contemporary trends. Trends cannot be understood in isolation or by witnessing a single creative individual’s effort. For that, a holistic view is required. And that’s what can be had by visiting the Koel Art Gallery where an exhibition titled ‘Summerscape’ commenced on Tuesday.

Artworks of no fewer than 52 known and less known painters and sculptors are on display at the gallery for over a month. It is an encouraging sign on two counts (which falls in the ‘trend’ category): one, Pakistani artists are now finding both their voice and feet relatively easy; two, it sends a very healthy signal to the rest of the world that: watch out!

There’s lots happening in the show that covers a wide range of subjects. For example, if Arshad Faruqi’s solid cones signify the presence of something that’s not present, then the ‘Malang’ (oil on canvas) of Muhammad Rustom Khan speaks of something that’s present but for some unspecified reason remains unnoticed. This is why Rustom makes sure that the malang looks like someone who is not an anachronistic entity; who is not alienated from society no matter how much society tries to alienate him. The almost photographic and shiny image of the character turns him into a person who is as contemporary as they get.

Malang by M Rustom Khan.
Malang by M Rustom Khan.

Contemporary and modern can be mutually reinforcing, as can be seen in Fariha Taj’s striking ‘Point a’ and ‘Point b’ (mixed media). The labyrinthine play of colours and lines is a delight to behold. She packs her artwork with images that depict a set of hodgepodge questions that life can become, that living in a Pakistani city can be, and doesn’t permit us to move from one place to another without losing our way, willingly.

And then there’s Masood A. Khan with his untitled acrylic-and-ink-on-paper exhibit, bringing the tempo of the show down a notch, introducing the viewer to the other aspect of existence: serenity – lost and found.

The exhibition will be open till July 26.

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2014

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