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Truth shall prevail

June 23, 2015


Among the Believers by Adeel uz Zafar / Photos by White Star
Among the Believers by Adeel uz Zafar / Photos by White Star

KARACHI: Some of us harbour the notion that technology has terribly affected the art world, as it has other spheres of life, rendering quite a few ideas outmoded. Not so.

These days a visit to the Koel Gallery would suggest our modern-day artists are trying not to delink themselves from the discipline of philosophy. How so? Well, an exhibition of artworks of more than 20 artists titled And Nothing But the Truth: Parrhesia II has, according to the organisers, its roots in French thinker Michel Foucault’s concept of parrhesia.

Let’s take a look at that concept first. The term was used by the Greeks (not today’s Greeks who are in financial distress) and it means: to speak everything with freedom. Foucault did not invent it. He merely built upon the idea and rejuvenated the term. But the point is: is it a plausible concept in the 21st century? Does it apply to the paintings and sculptures on display at the gallery? Yes, it does.

It all begins with Aamir Habib’s ‘Blind Eye’ (acrylic, LED lights). There’s an obvious reference to faulty sensory experiences, and to the difference between what we see and what we want to see. For some reason, it brings to mind a line from Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, “The eye sees not itself, but by reflection, by some other things.”

Nurjahan Akhlaq somewhat changes the mood of the theme with ‘Mangled Logic’ (mixed media). The colour red rings two bells here: of passion and danger. It is up to the viewer to pick and choose and discover their own truth.

Shaam by Salima Hashmi
Shaam by Salima Hashmi

Salima Hashmi creates a readily identifiable ambience with ‘Shaam’ (mixed media on paper). It is identifiable because of the melancholy that the artwork evokes. The use of mixed media allows the artist to present facets or phases of the shaam.

Adeel uz Zafar draws the distinction between black and white in ‘Among the Believers’ (mixed media installation) but in a manner that the distinction, despite the clarity of the issue, blurs the believer-nonbeliever line.

The other participating artists, all of whom have impressive artworks to show, are Roohi Ahmed, Shalalae Jamil, Mohsin Shafi, Noor Yousuf, Seher Naveed, Naiza H. Khan, Seema Nusrat, Bani Abidi, Nazish Ataullah, Yaminay Chaudhry, Hamra Abbas, Abdullah M. I. Syed, Meher Afroz, Noorjehan Bilgrami, Quddus Mirza, Amin Gulgee, Madiha Sikander and Imran Channa.

The exhibition, curated by Zarmeene Shah, will continue until July 23.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2015

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