ISLAMABAD: Satrang Gallery inaugurated, ‘Collective Renditions’, a group show featuring promising young graduates from the prestigious National College of Arts on Thursday.

The participating artists, Abdul Basit, Agha Irtaza Qazalbash, Ahsan Ali Memon, Ahsan Javaid, Ali Saad, Faraz Aamer Khan, Hammad Gillani, Hamid Ali, Jahanzaib Akmal, Marjan Bani Asadi, Maryam Bani Asadi, Onaiz Taji, Qaiser Shah, Samiullah Sehto and Sarah Zia, graduated from the NCA’s Lahore and Rawalpindi campuses this year.

Asma Rashid Khan, the director of Satrang Gallery, said: “We are fortunate to have brought together a group of immensely talented young graduates from NCA, which is becoming a regional hub for art education as students from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Iran study there.

“Two of the artists displaying their work today are sisters from Iran who bring a regional flavour to the collection while showing a culture in transition, much as Pakistan is.”

Agha Irtaza Qazalbash whose metal sculptures draw from images of and use coins, said: “In my work, the coin symbolises economy and identity, connoting power and privilege - as Noam Chomsky once said ‘Truth and justice or power and privilege’... I use the coin in different ways and manifestations, both directly and indirectly, leaving its interpretation open to the viewer’s perception.”

Ahsan Javaid painted detailed images which make it appear as if an object is magnified and seen through a microscope – losing, in a sense, cohesion while acquiring entirely different dimensions. He explained his work as a comment on the media, saying: “Media, be it digital or print, crops certain information and delivers information to us in the form of cropped messages. My practice deals with the idea of cropping information in a way that it generates an unintended and new meaning out of it.”

Hammad Gillani, who is an internally displaced person, exhibited a fascinating minimalist selection of work in which he reflect on the context and process of reaching a state of being. “We, as a society, have come to terms with the existence of extremist behaviour but we have failed to question why it exists. I have, through my paintings identified the small unnoticeable moments that act as catalysts to extremist behaviour.”

Meanwhile, miniaturist Jahanzaib Akmal modernised his paintings using iconic motifs from the 1980s video game ‘Mario Brothers’. He described his work as “an amalgamation of two different techniques: one from the nostalgic word of 8-bit, and the other from old historic miniature and Western paintings, which makes the traditional painting very pop, but still nostalgic.”

— Photos by Tanveer Shahzad
— Photos by Tanveer Shahzad

Marjan Bani Asadi, an Iranian student, depicted the efforts and achievements of carpet weavers into a complex canvas. “I am in another happier and an easier time and space, when I am associating Iran, my homeland and its culture in my paintings. The series ‘Listen to this carpet’ is about the stories of the weavers of the Persian carpets and with them my own personal recollections.”

Her sister, Maryam, is a modern miniaturist who used images from Iran today in miniatures, drawing people travelling in public transport. She said: “Displacement provoked me to record my own life in miniature, and combine it with my childhood memories and the background which I came from. My subject is contemporary, and the technique is traditional.”

Samiullah Sehtowas the only artist in the group to exhibit work on a massive scale, displaying a cityscape at night. “My work is about the time people are a whole different personality. The work started off from city lights in the night – showing the importance of light in the dark – and now it has come to people, creatures of the night, hiding in the shadows.”

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2016

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