— Photo by Tanveer Shahzad
— Photo by Tanveer Shahzad

ISLAMABAD: To walk into Satrang Gallery on Thursday night was to experience an introspective study of the human body, in not just its external form with its creases and curves but also its relationship with the spirit itself.

The human form is the focus of the works of two artists Naveen Shakil and Scheherezade Junejo, in the latest show to open at the gallery titled The Temporary Façade.

Describing the show, curator Zara Khan said that while both artists are focusing on the human body, they approach it in very different ways. Junejo’s work is commenting on social opinions and injustices while Shakil deals with the relationship between man’s internal and external being.

“Scheherezade is dealing with how people are into dressing up the body. The body stops being just the body but becomes a vehicle through which you express yourself and are also judged. Naveen’s work is inspired by a poem by the Sufi Poet Bulleh Shah who reminds man that dust is all he is, so it is more about the internal,” she said.

The two artists also greatly vary in the scale they work with and the techniques they employ. Junejo has an exceptional focus on detail, capturing the movement of each bone underneath the skin while Shakil is a muralist and the impact of her work is best experienced at a distance. “Naveen is focusing so deeply on the internal, the external becomes almost vaguer,” Ms Khan said.

Talking to Dawn, Scheherezade Junejo said that this is the first time her work has been exhibited alongside another artist who has a similar attention towards anatomy as herself. “There is a dialogue between our canvases,” she said.

Talking about this body of work, Junejo said that it deals with identity, sexuality, skin, shame, masks and facades. “I see people wear 20 different characters in a day to address different people and different circumstances but the more human they try to act, the more inhuman they start to look. This is why you will see a lot of faces are missing, things are mutated and limbs and extremities are manipulated and the form becomes less human and more animalistic,” she said

Naveen Shakil is a self-taught muralist, artist and graphic designer whose process begins with a mural which she then translates on to a canvas.

Her work is often reminiscent of renaissance era anatomical drawings but also demonstrates a deep exploration of the internal state of the mind and soul.

Talking to Dawn, Shakil said the process through which the artist arrives at a finished piece is more important than the piece itself. “People come to shows and see finished pieces but do not know the agony behind the finished works, which is why the video is very important as it reveals my process,” she said.

She described a piece titled Sajda-the Dawn as the “most important” for her as it is a prelude to her next series. The series featured in this show called Khaki Banda, takes its title from the poem by Bulleh Shah and captures turmoil.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2018