KARACHI: Adeela Suleman is one of the country’s finest visual artists. She usually creates artworks in which tradition and contemporariness speak in unison without losing out on their individual traits. The latter — contemporariness — can be seen in the diverse techniques that she employs to express herself creatively, and the former manifests itself in the form of subject matter that draws on history and its effects on the modern world.
An exhibition of Adeela’s latest body of work is under way at Gandhara-Art Space. It is titled Fragmented landscapes which suggests what art lovers will see is settings that are identifiable but they will have to put the pieces together themselves to pick the artist’s brain.
Mind you, the landscapes that Adeela is talking about exist as much on a psychological plain as physical. The artist is very politically aware, so she can’t help it when sociopolitical upheavals feature in her work that often dazzles the viewer with luster and resplendence. For example, in an untitled piece (all exhibits are untitled) she uses champa compressed wood board and ceramic vintage plate with enamel paint and lacquer to produce a dazzling work of art. But then the scene that she creates in the centre of the artwork brings history into the picture which lends a meaningful dimension to the whole exercise. The whole, however, cannot be reached unless its parts are appreciated.
The first two exhibits seem relatively simpler to understand, seem being the operative word. The landscapes are there, with the usual paraphernalia — greenery, mountains, the sky — giving the illusion as if there is no sense of fragmentation here. That’s not the case. Moving back to look at them from a distance gives a clearer indication of their shape and, therefore, their real physical selves. Adeela knows well how the visual can be made into the cerebral.
The exhibition will remain open until May 27.
Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2017