For the real blue lady, Ammar Faiz
For the real blue lady, Ammar Faiz

Expertise in art fuels creative intellect, inspiration and the capability to interact with the masses effectively. Hence, to explore the dynamic relationship between the artist, audience, curator and the local art scenario, the Sanat Gallery, Karachi, held an experimental exhibition What Belongs to You, showcasing works of Ammar Faiz, Farhat Ali, Madyha Leghari, Naira Mushtaq, Sajid Khan and Zoya Siddiqui. Curated by Aziz Sohail, the exhibition is essentially based on the concept of borrowing another person’s expression and transforming it innovatively into one’s own work of art.

Narrating the true spirit of the exhibition’s theme, Faiz’s magazine collage ‘For the real blue lady’ on a film poster, mounted on fluted boxboard, captures the prevalent milieu of media onslaught, consumerism and the need for redemption. Some of the paper pieces have been corrugated to impart rich texture. To circumvent plagiarism, the artist has juxtaposed the collage giving each of the borrowed elements an innovative exposure, culminating into a unique composition.

Imparting a pleasant 3D flavour to the art show, the works of Ali invoke a spontaneous response from the audience owing to their simplistic structure, tangible content and familiarity. His assemblage ‘Untitled III’ is an abstract oil painting that is fully visible when the venetian blind over it is stacked at the top. When lowered, the blind, with its variable openings, gives the painting its many moods, while the multi-coloured slats also serve as a pleasant design when fully lowered and shut.


An exhibition essentially based on the concept of borrowing another person’s expression and transforming it


Leghari improvises her triptych ‘One and three texts’ by reproducing an extract of a newspaper article in three different mediums: vinyl, canvas and photocopy. The larger vinyl print is the same article written in Urdu with English dialect while the oil on canvas segment is painted with super-realist precision, and the third piece is a simple photocopy. A tad whimsical, the artist has fused her work with another person’s expression to produce a unique but captivating artwork.

To elaborate the many ambiguities related to plagiarism and breach of copyright, Mushtaq resorts to a practical demonstration by painting and modifying redundant artefacts to convert them into original creations. Her relic titled ‘11-2-1992’ is based on a found vintage music box, which she has enhanced by an LED-backlit screen affixed with a digitally printed photo transparency. The aesthetic treatment of the music box rejuvenates the object’s appearance and adds value to its functionality by transforming it into a light box.

Untitled II, Sajid Khan
Untitled II, Sajid Khan

Painted with watercolours on archival paper, Khan’s painting ‘Untitled II’ depicts flashes of history with silhouettes of warplanes, air tankers, bombers, helicopters and drones. This painting has been affixed on a book jacket of World War II photographic archives, with adhesive paper-tape and thumb tacks, emulating as a replacement book-cover. The artist’s objective is to produce a visual history contextualised to his personal background and experiences, and to emphasise a sense of belonging to the past.

Taking a more intense initiative to contrive valuable reference from the fading native customs, Siddiqui, navigates through home interiors of old Lahore, clicking photographs. Her collection of 35 postcard sized metallic prints titled ‘Personal shrines’ in mixed media, depict personal items accumulated over the years by different families. The artist shares the unique household photos through public display after converting them into works of art.

The concept and approach of this exhibition is a refreshing change that would be a compelling paradigm for contemporaries to synthesise; however, to create a difference in contemporary art, there is a necessity to take frequent tangents to customary thinking.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, July 24th, 2016

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