KARACHI: How many graffiti artists do we have in Pakistan? The appropriate, and safe, answer to the question would be: not many. An exhibition of Sanki King’s artworks titled You should know him by now under way at the Sanat Art Gallery contains works which are quite a departure from what art lovers have become accustomed to seeing these days. They have freshness to them mainly to do with technique. The bonus is that it adds an interesting ingredient to the present-day art fodder available in Pakistan.
Rest assured, the young Sanki is worth discussing. Yes, he has a long way to go, but the kind of carefree spirit that oozes from his effort engages the viewer in a manner that suggests distinctness and distinction. Whatever he does, he seems to do it without giving a hoot about its reception. His familiarity with three languages (Urdu, English and Arabic) and his love of the written word enhance the visual charm of his creative pursuits.
The first, and the biggest, work on display is called ‘Solitude’ (acrylic, spray paint on canvas). To give its subject away he quotes from two interesting writers: Jaun Elia and Hunter S. Thompson. He calls it solitude, and interestingly approaches it by discussing loneliness. It compels the viewer to read the text and look at the exhibit multiple times, and the line between solitude and loneliness gets blurred till both merge — despite the playful dash of the spray.
‘Gaze’ (mixed media) has a controlled feel to it. This means that the artist is versatile and knows how to make lines obey him. Despite referring to Tolstoy, it looks more like a throwback to the pop culture zeitgeist than anything else. Whatever it is, it is an absorbing work of art.
The black base in ‘Rage’ (mixed media), in a manner of speaking, goes with Dylan Thomas’s famous line ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’, because of the Welsh poet’s allusion to death in the poem. Darkness and death go hand in hand.
The most striking piece on view, in terms of confluence of the visual and the contextual, is ‘Introvert’. Here, Sanki quotes Kafka in his statement and the image that he comes up with is of a sudden splash of light. His interpretation of both the Czech master’s line and of a reflective individual (read: introvert) are in sharp contrast. Ironically, there is no contradiction in the contrast.
‘Awakening’ (mixed media) rounds off the artist’s little journey, not without making the viewer realise if he wants he can talk big … and not sound pompous.
The exhibition will remain open till June 18.
Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2016