Exhibition: Lines that talk

Published September 18, 2016
‘Qasoo’ Naeem Akhtar
‘Qasoo’ Naeem Akhtar

For artists, drawing is a means to sketch a composition of what they intend to paint. Some drawings, however, are exceedingly expressive and meant to be standalone works. One such collection, a group show titled ‘The future is now’ was recently exhibited at the Artchowk Gallery in Karachi. It showcased 48 drawings by artists Abid Hussain, Faiz M Supro, Farooqe Ali Chandio, Muhammad Mujeeb, Naeem Akhtar, Saeed Lakho, Shafiq Tunio, Shahid Aziz, Waqas Khatri and Zameer Hussain.

A variety of mediums were displayed at this exhibition and it was promising to note that there were also drawings produced using diverse graphic techniques. Tunio’s prints ‘Mark’ and ‘Van Gogh’ stood out from the rest owing to the captivating effect and texture of the ‘aquatint’ (etching on zinc plate) process adopted by the artist. It would’ve been interesting to see other printmaking techniques such as etching, line engraving, lithograph, wood-cut and mezzotint employed as well.

Depicting the cherubic faces of children, accented with a newspaper collage, are the pencil-on-paper drawings of Akhtar. Oblivious of the precarious environment filled with social pressures, these children appear to be joyful and bubbly. Akhtar’s drawing ‘Qasoo’ captures an innocent face of a boy with dishevelled hair, a shadow of a smile and eyes that brim with hope for the future. The natural asymmetry in the taweez (amulet) and the unkempt shirt validate the artist’s astute observation.


A group show by 10 artists from interior Sindh shows the joys and rigours of rural life


Sketches of traditional habitats, local village folk, pastoral landscapes and animals have been meticulously drawn by Supro, Chandio, Hussain and Lakho. Sensitively portrayed, the drawings of this quartet, reach out to the core of life in interior Sindh and the environment that they grew in. Hussain’s reflections on the life of the fishermen on traditional boats, Supro’s expression of local donkey-driven tongas, Lakho’s precisely-modelled drapery and Chandio’s traditional handicrafts are gripping owing to their exquisite ‘draftsmanship’.

The crosshatched patterns in pen and ink by Mujeeb are a testament to the artist’s fluid handling of innumerable strokes. Contrary to the usual rigidity that one experiences in pen sketches, his delicately undulating lines are somewhat organic and display a pleasant visual flavour. On the other hand, Khatri chooses to draw portraiture that captures weathered human faces, as in ‘An old man’, ball-point pen on paper, which narrates the subject’s lifetime experiences.

Pen and ink drawings of monuments, huts and hovels by Hussain are rendered a photo-like finish owing to the artist’s precise perspective, form and proportion. The drawings demonstrate the artist’s developed skills in handling chiaroscuro, shown by deploying line densities strategically. Rotring pen are difficult to draw with, but Hussain’s perseverance has paid off splendidly. Similarly drawn in pen and ink, sketches of Aziz appear futuristic in content where he has

composed pistons, sprockets, clutch plates, cyclic gear trains, etc. His drawing ‘Chains and circles II’ has been handled ingeniously in a manner that simplifies the elements while also appearing eye-catching.

All of the 10 artists have stayed within the domain of their everyday life and culture, which happens to be in and around the old city of Jamshoro. The uninfluenced expression of the joys and rigours of rural life by these adventurous artists signifies the richness of culture that needs to be documented more often.

‘The future is now’ was exhibited from August 18 till September 1 at Artchowk Gallery in Karachi

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, September 18th, 2016

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