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Discontent and art

April 06, 2019

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Three of the artworks on display.—White Star
Three of the artworks on display.—White Star

KARACHI: An exhibition produced and curated by the faculty of interior design at the Indus Valley School (IVS) of Art and Architecture titled Dys-Content opened at the IVS Gallery on Thursday. It is an interesting show in which seven artists (Wafa Ali, Arif Haider, M. Usman Ansari, Mahwish Rasool, Umer Bhatti, Rafi Ahmed, Ayesha Bilal and Rafia Dadi) have engaged in the fascinating process of storytelling. Mind you, they belong to the world of interior design, so one was already intrigued by the idea of seeing or hearing a story from men and women whose passion it is to improve the inner space of a structure to make it aesthetically pleasing. What one gets is a double treat.

The seven talented artists wow the viewer with their creative light and profound affinity with other genres of art, such as literature and film. It all begins with Dadi’s intriguing tribute to William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet with the artwork called ‘What light through yonder window breaks’ (wood patterned glass and LED strip light). Now we know that it is a line that Romeo utters when he sees Juliet appearing on the balcony. Dadi is not talking about romance here. Or let’s put it this way: she’s not just talking about romance. The intricacy of her artwork relates to a contemporary, urban world where ‘windows’ of houses reveal more than what they cover — and not in the sense that Romeo looked at his world.

Ansari’s tribute to the great film-maker Alfred Hitchcock in the piece called ‘Vertigo’ (oil on canvas — a reference to the Hitchcock movie) achieves the same result by applying a different formula. The young artist is looking back. For him, the present is important as long as it knows its genesis, that is, where its roots lie. In that context, space matters. And a vertiginous look at things allows him to rationalise the ‘events’ that have unfolded in his life and shaped his personality.

Bhatti’s ‘Freak show’ (pen and ink, watercolour) takes the show on a different plane where the line between contentment and discontentment gets legible. His statement and artworks gel well: “Freak refers to both weird times we are facing globally and the tolerance of the different, unusual deformities.” This is the nub of the display, and the seven participating artists have stuck to the theme intelligently.

The exhibition, curated by Mahwish Rasool, concludes on April 19.

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2019