KARACHI: Although artists have been using the theme of alienation from time immemorial, it was the 20th century existentialists who made it the centrepiece of their works. Be it the character of Antoine Roquentin (from Sartre’s Nausea) or that of Meursault (from Camus’s The Stranger) their travel from an objective world to a subjective realm occurs largely because of the sense of alienation from society.
A seven-person exhibition with the same theme opened at the Full Circle Gallery on Tuesday. It has to be said that, unlike a majority of group shows, the painters who have taken part in the display — Anum Lasharie, Annem Zaidi, Babar Moghal, Manizhe Ali, Paul Mehdi Rizvi, Scheherezade Junejo and Shiraz Malik — have stuck to the brief.
It would be a little difficult to talk about each artist’s take on the subject because all of them have interpreted the topic in almost the same way, in terms of their creative approach. That approach is one where real events — which affect the artists’ protagonists, living or nonliving beings — transform into imaginary incidents caused by the inner distortions that exist in those real events. In a certain case it emerges in the form of horrific stories that we are told by our elders or that unfold before our eyes, making us see the world through the prism of despair. In another case we construe the rapidly changing developments — technological, for example, which impinge on the moral nomenclature of society — as something that will ultimately harm us.
This means that the seven artists attach great importance to the individual’s psychosocial struggle in life and his/her association with nostalgia — the past when society was less violent and there was a general feeling of calmness about everyday goings-on. And that is something which leads to an individual’s sense of alienation.
The exhibition will conclude on Dec 5.
Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2017