KARACHI: Poets, novelists and artists have been heavily influenced and inspired by women ever since artistic forms of expression became an essential component of the cultural growth of human societies. The emphasis generally has been on their physical attributes highlighting their integral role in the romantic aspects of life.
This is where Mariya Shaikh, whose painting exhibition titled Versatile Beauty can these days be seen at the Full Circle Gallery, differs from her artists’ community. How? Answer: she wants to give a holistic view of women.
Shaikh is concerned more with the roles that women play in society. We all know these roles are multifarious, and their significance cannot be undervalued. So, the artist puts them in different scenarios to show their development as human beings and their contribution to society. But the artist is also aware of tenderness and beauty associated with them. As a result, there is a profusion of colours and swishy strokes that the viewer cannot overlook. In fact, in a little contrast to her subject matter, the figures and scenes surrounding the characters in the artworks have a vibrancy which occasionally pushes back the content, and the acrylic-and-pigment-on-canvas sceneries take centre-stage.
For instance, in an exhibit called ‘A beautiful woman must expect to be more accountable for her steps than one less attractive’, the woman’s back to the viewer allows the background to become more prominent than the protagonist in the image. That’s what the artist wants us to see, which is: the larger scheme of things impinging on individuals’ outlook on life.
In ‘Practice random beauty’ Shaikh’s focus shifts from the holistic to the individual. Here, the decked-up head of the central character hides her eyes, and yet the face reveals it all — the burden of both beauty and societal obligations.
The exhibition will conclude on June 8.
Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2017