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Where the future lies open

April 25, 2019

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Three of the paintings on display in the exhibition.—White Star
Three of the paintings on display in the exhibition.—White Star

KARACHI: What can be more uncertain than our future? No one can predict it with absolute certainty, not even clairvoyants –– in case anyone believes in them. Conjecture based on what’s happening in the ‘now’ usually gives us an idea, sometimes a great many ideas in the Orwellian sense, as to what’s in store for us. This is the central theme of a three-person show titled Where future lies under way at the Art Chowk Gallery on Thursday. Mind you, the name of the exhibition basically relates to the youthfulness of the three artists (Khushbakht Soomro, Fatima Khalid and Hina Tabassum) suggesting that they’re the rising stars in Pakistani art. Interestingly, it’s hard to miss the Orwellian drift in their creative output.

The most potent example of the observation is Khalid’s gouache-on-wasli artworks. Her focus is the shape that the ‘body’ assumes under the watchful CCTV camera system. The CCTV phenomenon is a relatively new one aimed at beefing up security systems at public and private spaces. At the same time it is something that can compromise a person’s privacy in nondescript ways. One of them is to make the body of that person appear and disappear without their knowledge. This doesn’t necessarily have negative connotations, but the thought that someone doesn’t have control over their body, even for a brief period, is a loaded one. Khalid explores that in pieces such as ‘Glass Houses’.

Tabassum picks up another sensitive topic: children’s innocence. Philosophers believe the reason for infants’ innocence is the fact that they don’t have memory. Once a person starts storing good or bad memories, the innocence begins to wear out. Tabassum in the series ‘The Hues of Decay’ (enamel and rust on steel plate) concentrates on the issue of kids’ protection (or lack of it) and their brutal exposure to violence in society.

For Soomro the dictum ‘medium is the message’ holds water. The artist in her statement writes: “The reason I use rust in art is because it satisfies me while making textures and layers left by the rust. The medium speaks to nature and life.” This is evident from her untitled acrylic on rusty metal sheet paintings –– the medium does speak to nature.

The show concludes on April 29.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2019