Defining the fine line

Published September 3, 2015
Sada Khush Raho by Cyra Ali
Sada Khush Raho by Cyra Ali

KARACHI: A three-person show titled The Fine Line opened at the Canvas Gallery on Tuesday evening. Two of the three young participating artists — Cyra Ali and Fatima Munir — are graduates of the Indus Valley School, whereas Umar Nawaz is a National College of Arts (NCA) graduate. And the three of them have interpreted the phrase ‘the fine line’ in their distinct way. If for Cyra and Fatima, the line exists vis-à-vis society’s inept dealing with sociopolitical issues, then for Umar the power to (physically) manipulate is where the problem lies. Yes, there is unity, albeit impalpable, in the diversity of opinion.

Sabeen by Fatima Munir
Sabeen by Fatima Munir

Cyra’s work is to do with an individual’s sexual identity. This is one topic that most present-day artists seem to be focusing on. But Cyra touches upon it with artistic panache. ‘Heroine’ (acrylic and needlepoint on canvas) is an important evidence of it. Her most impressive work in the show, ‘Raat Ki Raani’ brings to the fore the aesthete in her. The smart play on or overlapping of the image in the painting and the name of the flower is obvious; but her execution of the artwork is quite pleasing.

! Sabeen by Fatima Munir

Fatima’s subject, which she appears to be perturbed by, is the socio-political goings-on in the country. Her sharp criticism and lampooning of politicians in her inkjet-on-canvas work is attention seeker. While the content of her politically motivated work is unmissable, it is her kind little tribute to the late social activists Sabeen Mahmud and Parween Rehman that speaks volumes for her concern for where society is headed.

Raat Ki Raani by Cyra Ali
Raat Ki Raani by Cyra Ali

Umar uses steel and iron as his medium. It is physical toughness that he is homing in on. However, to understand the artist’s drift, even a cursory look at an untitled iron piece, which is the last artwork in the show, will suffice. There are cracks in it, signifying that sometimes form overshadows content in such a way that it itself becomes content.

The exhibition will remain open until Sept 10.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2015

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