KARACHI: An exhibition titled Itwaar Ka Din opened at the Sanat Art Gallery on Tuesday. According to the curatorial note, the show is the result of the six participating artists’ response to its curator Azanat Mansoor’s letters written to them based on Sufi Tabassum’s poems for children (from Jhoolney). Does this mean that the subjects that the artworks focus on relate to children? Far from being true. They move backwards in time, the time when the future has little or no significance and the past doesn’t exist at all.
This can be easily gauged from Sahyr Sayed’s fantastic works. The artist creates worlds within a world, and makes it with such a delectable mix of creativity and craftsmanship that it enables the viewer to understand the smallness of big things, despite the fact that they hint at the disorder that often accompanies adulthood. The artwork called ‘The New Address’ is quite a sight. The hard work that has gone into making this piece (Styrofoam panel covered in junk, gypsona and acrylic paint, found objects, adhesive, etc) gets overshadowed by the power of the content. Yes, the idea of a home and homeliness seems to be Sahyr’s subject matter. But it is the sense of a mechanical growth, and not the organic one, that she seems to be perturbed by. And it is the viewer who reaps the fruit of this combination of labour and imaginativeness.
Rabeya Jalil broadens the scope of the theme with her ‘Nirala Shehr’ (video and mixed media), where, unlike her aforementioned colleague’s effort, the concept of the shehr (city) becomes a collective identity for the young ones. It is an effective way of dealing with a difficult motif.
Hassan Mujtaba reverts to the basics and keeps it simple. His study of the faces in the series titled ‘A view in the middle of making’ (charcoal and lead on paper) plays on the idea of innocence, even when innocence comes across as a fleeting, transient quality.
Haider Ali Jan’s examination of established narratives, Mohsin Shafi’s inquiry into deep-seated emotions and Zara Asgher’s attempt at making sense of innate sadness of their protagonists are also fine examples of how artists in our times are revisiting important issues.
The exhibition will run until Feb 25.
Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2016