A solo exhibition titled Thoughts From The Celestial Realm was held recently at the Koel Gallery in Karachi. It displayed a collection of 28 purely sculptural pieces by internationally celebrated artist Abdul Jabbar Gul.
Born in Mirpurkhas, Gul went on to study from the prestigious National College of Arts in Lahore where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1996 and has since exhibited his works both nationally and internationally. He has been a part of a number of international residencies and has taught as visiting faculty in several educational institutes. He also has multiple art projects to his name including the massive ‘Coin Mural’ displayed at the State Bank of Pakistan.
As an artist, Gul’s sensibility and thought is drawn to the physical and spiritual workings of human beings. The artist is particularly sensitive to the struggles of the common man because he also belongs to the same class. He refers to them as ‘ordinary souls’ and ventures out to visualise their struggles on both the individual and collective levels.
Abdul Jabbar Gul’s striking sculptures take art lovers on a mystical journey
Gul has made liberal use of brass and wood for creating the sculptures on display in this exhibition, both mediums which Gul describes as sympathetic and, therefore, malleable. Along with his preferred medium, the artist also replicated a unique motif in all the sculptures displayed at the show. Designed as ‘a being with wings’, the tiny stylised forms represent the thoughts of the artist as they fly through his imagination while he questions the ordeals of both the physical and spiritual worlds. Gul describes these three-dimensional winged personas as a way of disciplining and directing his thoughts and additionally juxtaposes a takhti along with it which is the symbol of awareness.
The exhibition appears as an visual delight at first glance. Keeping to a limited and natural colour palette, the artist allows the materials used to shine through the sculptures. The colours of the wood and brass dance off each other and create a wonderful contrast against the white gallery space. Some of the sculptural works also include the use of resin and gold leaf which further accentuates the pieces. Each artwork is meticulously crafted and had to undergo several technical procedures (done by the artist himself) before becoming a finished product. Each sculpture is uniquely different as Gul provides the audience with a different visual composition in each one of them. By having the works placed together in one space, the viewer is able to experience a better understanding of his thought process.
To fully understand the spirituality or even the working of this world is impossible — more often than not, one is left with more questions than answers. This is also the case with the artist and his sculptures. He creates work not with the intention of providing definitive answers or solutions to the turmoil of everyday life but rather provides ambiguous visualisations that require individual interpretation. He allows the sculpture to speak to the viewer on a personal and emotional level.
“Thoughts of a Celestial Realm” was exhibited at the Koel Gallery in Karachi from January 8 to January 24, 2019
Published in Dawn, EOS, February 3rd, 2019