The many shades of red

Published February 13, 2015
Humaira Abid (R) stands next to her art work at the Khaas gallery.—Photos by Ishaque Chaudhry
Humaira Abid (R) stands next to her art work at the Khaas gallery.—Photos by Ishaque Chaudhry

ISLAMABAD: Sculptor Humaira Abid made a bold statement with her exhibition titled Red, which opened Khaas gallery on Thursday. Truly successful in what she aimed to achieve, the exhibition invoked discomfort and melancholy.

The artist drew inspiration from her own personal life in which she suffered multiple miscarriages and the violence in Pakistani society and drew parallels between the two.

Wooden taps were installed on walls which dripped blood and pacifiers hung from red ropes, depicting the brutal murder of two young brothers in Sialkot by a mob, four years ago. Other sculptures such as ‘my secret world’, ‘hung by the freedom of choice,’ ‘lingering prayer’ and ‘hamstrung’ express her feelings about Pakistan’s political circumstances.

Humaira Abid, who graduated from the National College of Arts in 2000 is part of the visiting faculty at the college. As a student, she majored in sculpture and minored in miniature. Both her areas of expertise are featured in this exhibition.

Today she is based in the United States and returned with a new show to Islamabad, after six years. Red features 20 pieces which were installed on the walls and displayed on the floor.

“To me, the colour red represents love, passion, sacrifice, blood, pain, anger and loss. It symbolizes strong emotions or things which inspire strong emotions,” Humaira Abid told her visitors.

“In the subcontinent, red is the traditional colour of bridal dresses and a symbolic color for married women. The colour is associated with love, sexuality and fertility. However, in some parts of Africa red is a colour of mourning and death as it is also the colour of blood,” she explained to guests.

According to the artist, these contrasting feelings associated with the red colour echo her own. This exhibition is the culmination of her reaction to her experiences.

Most guests appreciated the way the artist talked openly about painful experiences in her personal life. A guest at the exhibition, Rabiya Asim, said she could relate to the emotions expressed through Humaira Abid’s work. “Most women can relate to such feelings. In her work, I see the pain experienced on a personal level and as a Pakistani but also growth”.

Humaira Abid said it is important that people share personal experiences. “You never know, talking about it might just help someone. A number of women who saw my work in the United States felt connected with me because they could relate to my work,” she said.

Nahid Bilgrami, a guest at the show, appreciated the juxtaposition of scissors, wires and the colours in one of the pieces. “It depicts pain,” she said. The show will run at Khaas gallery till February 25.

Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2015

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