Dialogues in clay

November 09, 2014


Photos by the writer
Photos by the writer

The Greek painter Eupompus when asked which one of his predecessors he had taken as an inspiration for his artistic creation, he replied, “One should imitate nature itself, not another artist.” Nature was the pivotal starting point of all art and the masters understood anatomy, perspective, light and the translation of these principles into an artistic representation. They first had to see the natural world before they could remodel it, to transform it.

Viewing a sculpted version of the human body can potentially make the onlookers reflect on themselves expressively. Figurative sculpture has been around for thousands of years, which provides a foundation for the importance of the human body within the arts. The tradition of figurative sculpture goes back to about 25,000 BC to the ‘Venus of Willendorf’, which is the oldest and most famous piece of art.

Exploring the human body through clay, a spectacular exhibition of sculpture and sculptural reliefs recently took place at the Tanzara Gallery in Islamabad. The solo show titled “The Inward Journey” showcases acclaimed artist, sculptor and aesthete Talat Dabir’s respect and love of clay which gives the material the shape and form it eventually transforms into. She finds rhythm in the flexible medium and investigates the human body both in its physical and spiritual beauty.

Talat Dabir finds rhythm in the malleable medium and investigates the human body

  Untitled sculptures by Talat Dabir. — Photos by the writer
Untitled sculptures by Talat Dabir. — Photos by the writer

Dabir is aware that we, as human beings, are connected with the Earth, with nature and that we are a function of a deeper evolutionary process; perhaps a conscious reflection of natural organic rhythm that has emerged and is reaching ever higher towards conscious complexity. The artist as the sculptor captures that rhythm, that fluidity, and she finds it important to be aware of and find that inner spirit echoed within the core of the piece itself. This in turn leads to a harmony of line flowing gracefully into line, form flowing into form, which is akin to dance.

In this exhibition she has also demonstrated her abilities as a miniaturist through her small-scale drawings. Pencil and ink have been used to construct these drawings that are connected in their own fashion to the rest of the display. Resembling meticulously assembled maps of buildings with a scattering of human forms, the drawings are noteworthy pieces in their own right.

The artist produces a narrative between the human form and birds, fish and sheep. There are beautiful touches of colour in the form of bands and the animals, which have a celestial relationship with the long-bodied human forms.

Created with flair and subtly expressing joy, Dabir’s pieces sets in motion a dialogue between the audience and the artist, one that is a haunting involvement.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, November 9th, 2014