As an artist, Akram Dost Baloch has a formidable body of work to his credit. He has, over the years, established himself as one of Pakistan’s leading painters whose art is suffused with the sensitivity that artists from Balochistan possess in abundance.
His latest exhibition titled ‘Collective Impulses’, which can be viewed at the Koel Art Gallery, however, is a departure from the way he usually expresses himself. And it has worked really well.
It rarely happens when the form of an artwork upstages its content. But one should not take it for any shortcoming on the part of the content. It’s just that the form, with the help of the chosen medium, is used in such a masterful way that the viewer gets utterly absorbed in the technique that the artist has employed, and takes time to think about the subject matter. (Make no mistake, though: content is king in any case.)
This observation is vindicated when the viewer notices that Baloch has used watercolours to make his artworks. This lends a noticeable fluidity to his paintings. As a result, their textures start speaking to the viewer. Yes, it all boils down to the textures, the feel of the artist’s creative output.
Now how to decipher the untitled more-than-two-dozen mixed watercolour paintings? The answer is simple: one needs to be alert to the way the artist has mapped ‘movement’ of the self. Mapped: because the movement that the viewer can detect in the exhibits is impulsive and seems to have destinations, fixed or unreached. It is almost a watery flow, hence the fluidity aspect.
What fits nicely into the whole scheme of things is the monochromatic look of the paintings. If there had been more colour to them, the artist wouldn’t have achieved his goal … of keeping things on the go.
The exhibition concludes on Sept 20.
Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2018