Winged thoughts, Abdul Jabbar Gul
Winged thoughts, Abdul Jabbar Gul

At a time when the blazing sun beats down over Karachi, adding mercilessly to the sweltering heat of the city, there are events which serve as cool havens. One such delightful respite is the recurring art exhibition entitled Summerscape, annually organised by Noorjehan Bilgrami at the Koel Gallery, Karachi. The commitment of this customary show is to display a large variety of contemporary art, to appeal art lovers with varying tastes. Hence, to alleviate this year’s humid temperatures, the Summerscape 2016 has brought a collection of 45 artists, comprising 87 splendid artworks. The show included works of some relatively senior artists which adds a rich texture to the diverse assortment. There were artworks of Naheed Raza, Meher Afroz, Afshar Malik, R.M. Naeem, Farrukh Shahab, Nazish Ataullah and Roohi Ahmed amongst others, which remained focal attractions at the exhibition.

The alluring marine artwork, titled ‘Invite’, by Aliya Yousuf, is a sensitively sculpted piece that is rich in organic forms, made from white stoneware, salt, soda that has been baked in wood fire. The sculpture appears to be a hybrid between a predatory oceanic plant and a seashell; however, the delicate modelling and surface finish gives it a soothing visual outlook.

Furthermore, the brass sculpture by Abdul Jabbar Gul, named ‘Winged thoughts’, depicts a braze-welded structure of rings and winged torsos perched on a base, shaped like a ‘takhti’ (slate). The ingenious composition is a unique representation of the power of education and how dreams and perseverance culminate into progress and the ascent of humanity.


With a rich collection of perceptively chosen paintings, the exhibition was a refreshing day out for the art lovers


An exceptionally free-spirited drawing ‘Candy boy’, in charcoal, pastel and pencil on paper, is the work of Shahana Afaq. The instinctive sketch has captured the child’s engrossed posture, and the gluttonous look that reflects a fear of being deprived of the candy. The artist tends to capture the ambience with pure feel and pleasurable doodling, which inevitably results in a compassionate depiction of the subject.

Likewise, ‘Cityscape’, Sadia Salim’s hand-built, wood-fired stoneware, is a three-segment gothic pillar akin to the Greek columns of the Doric order. The sculpted segments, with a deliberate torsion, are stacked emulating the ruins of the Parthenon at Athens. There is a certain reminiscent impact of this sculpture, which momentarily sends the viewer into the ancient times of aesthetic grandeur.

The storyteller, Madiha Sikander
The storyteller, Madiha Sikander

With a pristine finesse, Madiha Sikander’s miniature titled ‘The storyteller’ is a narrative that emphasises the traditional culture of book reading and storytelling. The vintage treatment of the wasli with syah qalam hints at the obsolescence of the printed media and the disappearance of storytellers. Though the painting depicts limited objects, as one continues to observe, numerous details begin to appear in the painting. It seems that this painting would never cease to reveal the nuances that the artist has so delicately programmed within it.

The calligraphic composition of Shahabdullah Alamee titled, ‘The oeuvre of perplexity-I’, in jali (large) Irani Nastaliq script, is a triptych in dark brown ink on paper. What overwhelms the viewer are the bold and flawless strokes of the brush, layered in perfect harmony, with occasions of equally aesthetic brush starvation. These characteristics, coupled with the hand-made Rajasthani paper, give the painting a humanised structure.

With an enormous collection of wisely chosen paintings, the exhibition was indeed a refreshingly interesting day out for art lovers. Such exhibitions that manifest diversity, also serve as mind-nurturing platforms, and need to be held more frequently.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, July 3rd, 2016

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