The celestial realm

10 Jan 2019


Four of the sculptures on display at the exhibition on Wednesday.—White Star
Four of the sculptures on display at the exhibition on Wednesday.—White Star

KARACHI: An exhibition of Abdul Jabbar Gull’s sculptures opened at the Koel Art Gallery on Tuesday. The name that the artist has given to the show is: Thoughts from the Celestial Realm. The rubric pretty much gives away his creative drift, the ideas that he’s been propagating for the past few years.

The common factor between Gull’s previous shows and the latest one is his interpretation of ‘thoughts’. From ‘winged thoughts’ to the current display, the artist has been trying to provide his admirers with a rational (as thoughts would suggest) spin to his art. And then he throws the ‘celestial’ element into the mix, and that makes things all the more interesting. No, it doesn’t befuddle the viewer; on the contrary, it allows him to ascertain how reason and imagination come together in a work that is essentially spiritual in content.

How does all of this connect to the heavenly bodies that exist in space? Well, there’s a famous monologue in Shakespeare’s King Lear read by Gloucester’s son Edmund where he says, “We make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon and the stars, as if we were villains by necessity…” implying that whatever wrong happens to us, we unjustly blame our (unlucky) stars for it.

Gull, on the other hand, believes in the opposite notion. His brass and wood exhibits hint at the kind of inspiration that only spiritual inclinations enable us to have. He uses wings both as motif and metaphor. They, no matter what placement they have in the artist’s scheme of things, signify man’s ability to let his imagination work wonders and explore the worlds — physical or spiritual — that are ostensibly beyond his grasp. Because only by grasping such worlds he will able to comprehend the experiential aspect of his life.

The show concludes on Jan 25.

Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2019