KARACHI: It has become a bit of a tradition for artists to pay tribute to the past masters by adding, subtracting or tempering with the subject matter of their masterpieces. So much so that sometimes you feel that it’s being overdone. But an exhibition of Kiran Saleem’s latest body of work titled To see or not to see that began at the Sanat Art Gallery on Tuesday evening will take many art buffs by a pleasant surprise. Here’s why:
When you look at Kiran’s artworks, even if you can immediately guess which master she is holding in high esteem, you cannot miss out on her own creative being in the larger scheme of things. In fact, her creative being is so overpowering that you tend to forget which artist she is paying a tribute or homage to.
One super example of it is the exhibit called ‘Self’ (oil on canvas). You bend down to read Rembrandt written at the bottom of the artwork; you get up to find what else there’s to it; you look at the vast expanse of the rest of the canvas and suddenly you realise that what you’re looking for is Kiran, not anyone else. This is the kind of attitude (aashufta bayani) that Ghalib feels is necessary for creativity.
Then that inescapable Italian artist and his immortal painting! Kiran could not have avoided him. However, there’s a touch of (likeable) irreverence in her attempt to reinterpret the masterpiece. Ironically, the piece is called ‘Venerable’ (digital print on canvas). This time not just her creative being but her personality comes to the fore, both literally and figuratively. And what’s intriguing about it is that you keep staring at the work of art thinking what different she has done to the face which is at the heart of the image. Good stuff.
The show will run till May 31.
Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2016