Exhibition: Manipulating the image

Published August 28, 2016
‘Process drawings 5’ - Anil Waghela
‘Process drawings 5’ - Anil Waghela

In the recent Sanat show titled ‘Ring a Bell’ it is not the imagery but image-making techniques that first impact the eye.

Overlaying dry pastel drawings, on resin-compressed paper, with photo transfers through the complex procedure of application and removal of tissue tape, Anil Waghela constructs a misty interplay of multiple images. He merges visuals pertaining to mythology and history across different cultures. Through personal renderings of these, he creates imaginary scenarios that extol motherhood and romanticise childhood recollections. The artwork ‘Process Drawings 2’ layered with fragmented images of the iconic ‘Madonna and Child’ by Leonardo Da Vinci and ‘Keralite Mother and Child’ by Raja Ravi Verma, utilises fusion and blurring to evoke idealised visions of maternal sentiments.
Shrouds, cloud forms and the obvious imprint of pre-historical fish fossils also illustrate the loosely-garnered theory of recall and reinterpretation that Waghela is portraying.

Sourcing history and appropriating, combining and de-contextualising assorted visual material to suggest idyllic states are common contemporary art strategies, but works only pique interest if the message and the art have bite and are innovatively handled. Manipulating a high proportion of borrowed content and clouding it in a fog points to Waghela’s technical potential but his stories do not surprise and some of the works appear unresolved. His approach is promising but his blend of visuals from Hindu mythology and biblical paintings lack finesse. By polishing his art of mixing images he can up his ante.


Artists Anil Waghela and Qutub Rind create works where treatment and medium invite more speculation than concept and subject


Qutub Rind’s artistic use of weaponry in a tribal/feudal milieu critiques violence, bloodshed and displacement, but it is his use of chamak patti dots as a painterly device that stand out. Originally used in creating truck art, chamak patti, due to its current populist art appeal, is rapidly evolving into an attractive and creative décor product for wooden furniture like trunks, table tops, chairs, jewellery, mugs, trays and glass bottles. It consists of sheets of reflective sticker tape tediously hand cut to design patterns. It was, until the early 1970s, used purely for night-time visibility on the front and rear of vehicles but it is now pasted on metal sheets to produce patterned templates.

The use of chamak patti in art requires considerable expertise with the cut and paste technique which truck artists acquire over several years of diligent practice. Using precut dots (or stencils) Qutub Rinds crafts figurative compositions with proficient paste applications on wasli. This complete reliance on dots as a drawing/painting vehicle shifts his work into the vast realm of dot paintings. Technically dots and pixels used in color painting and printing were first applied by visual artists in the 1880s. In 1886 Georges Seurat and Paul Signac developed pointillism, a technique of painting in which small, distinct dots of color are applied in patterns to form an image.

‘Ghisani Lave Mazaniya Gardina’ - Qutub Rind
‘Ghisani Lave Mazaniya Gardina’ - Qutub Rind

Other striking ‘dot’ works include the 1960’s canvases of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. He was actually painting digital pixels before there were pixels. Lichtenstein did not paint each and every dot by hand. Instead, he used various kinds of stencils with perforated dot patterns. He brushed his paint across the top of the stencil, and the colors dropped through, as perfect circles. In doing so, he was elevating commercial images from comics, and ads into art.

The 1970s may well have been the advent of computer-generated pixel art, but some rightly claim that it is merely an imitation of ancient art forms, such as mosaic, bead-work, embroidery or even pointillism. With pixel art the painted dots of colour are simply replaced by squares on a computer screen. With the advent of ultra-high definition, this phenomenon shows no sign of slowing down.

Recently graduated from the National College of Arts Waghela and Rind have opted for processes where there is much to explore and discover.

‘Ring a bell’ was exhibited from July 19th till July 28th at the Sanat Gallery, Karachi

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, August 28th, 2016

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