Colourful narratives

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The mutilation of the master manipulator, Sana Dar / Photos by the writer
The mutilation of the master manipulator, Sana Dar / Photos by the writer

Colours, shapes, brushstrokes, size and in some cases, the processes, are important characteristics of what makes abstract art. It is the artist who uses the visual language of forms, lines and colours to interpret a subject matter without providing the viewer with a recognisable visual reference point. This contrasts dramatically with more traditional forms of art, which set out to achieve a literal and more representational interpretation of a subject.

An abstract artist communicates with viewers in a way that allows the viewer to find his or her own personal response to the work. Anyone who has stood before a Mark Rothko painting will feel drawn in to a place of stillness and even a feeling of meditation. Russian-born Wassily Kandinsky offers a visual clarification of the harmony and melody of a piece of music, American painter Franz Kline’s work inspires a powerful sense of energy and the large-scale work stimulates capacious thinking.

Recently a group show featuring artists Ghaffar Jatoi, Ujala Khan and Sana Dar took place at My Art World in Islamabad. The show titled Covert Conversations emphasises dialogue with each painting. Each artist has probably carefully considered one’s role as the viewer of the painting and wants it to speak to the audience at some level.


Colours, shapes, lines and forms — an abstract panorama that creates a spectacle of delight


Sana Dar’s stencil work along with coats of paint delivers a binary stance on her mode of expression. The stencil work being delicate is cut into meticulously snipped patterns. This painstaking exercise is contradictory to the boldness of the paint. In ‘The mutilation of the master manipulator’ there is an array of emotions, ecstasy, apathy, tranquillity and zeal that all expose Dar’s state of mind. An underlying complication in thought processes is apparent and the artist takes her audience through a journey, an expedition of her own mind.

Fruit , Ghaffar Jatoi
Fruit , Ghaffar Jatoi

Ujala Khan has fearlessly worked with acrylics. Her paintings are an ambivalence of forms and space being highly abstract with a balance of elements of structured composition and wild improvisation. In ‘Reasons and Doubts’ Khan has executed compositional rhythm, sweeping gestural bush-strokes, and it is obvious her intent is not to create recognisable imagery but to convey emotions. There is a contrast of rebellion and repression in her paintings that leaves a resilient impact on the viewer. Even though her colours are bold there is an attention to detail in Khan’s paintings.

Abdul Ghaffar Jataoi’s paintings are enjoyable, fascinating and reminders of the delicate heterogeneity and change in colours and their tones. His successful experiment with colour harmony and dashed, broken brush strokes are woven together to heighten the vibrancy of his compositions. By doing so, Jatoi creates an optical illusion as apparent in ‘Fruit’ where he has depicted nature as how he sees it. His arrangement of colours alone has a powerful effect on the viewer.

Colour and form are the two basic means through which the artist achieves spiritual harmony in his or her compositions. In Covert Conversations all three painters have achieved this in their own respective manner.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine May 22nd, 2016