KARACHI: An exhibition of Abdul Jabbar Gull’s artworks titled Ordinary Souls opened at the Sanat Gallery on Tuesday evening.
Gull has earned renown in recent times for his distinctive creative ability, especially in the art of sculpting. This does not suggest that his oil-on-canvas work is of lesser significance, because be it painting or sculpting the one thing that stands out in the artist’s endeavours is his rootedness to the soil he belongs to, hence there’s a strong element of earthiness to his creative pursuits.
Perhaps that is why Gull is concerned about the ‘ordinary souls’ that he observes and interacts with, perhaps on a regular basis. These ordinary individuals define the many facets of existence — physical, ritualistic, philosophical and societal. The eponymous series (oil on canvas) in that regard is worth considering. The artworks depict, especially the diptychs, quite a few variables of existence vis-à-vis human beings. But what Gull does rather nicely is that he doesn’t show those variables in isolation. Instead, with a smattering of shapes, scribbles and basic colour schemes he tries to study the physical and the extra-sensory by placing them side by side. The somewhat individualistic approach to things is focused in the ‘Self-Absorption’ series. However, here too he has used the sense of ‘absorption’ differently. It is a kind of merging. This implies things have to be dealt with (read: examined) in totality.
‘The Game’ series (wood and metal) adopts a relatively direct approach to the subject. What is that game, by the way, that the artist is referring to? It may be anything, but what’s certain is that it takes place in the playground of life. Even with the toilsome art of sculpting, his astute use of shapes signifies a holistic attitude towards the games that we, humans, play.
And yet there are pieces like ‘Winged Thoughts’ which are more of a tribute to the power of imagination. It could be the artist’s own imagination as well.
The show will continue till Oct 10.
Published in Dawn September 30th, 2015