Hirabad-II, Saba Qayyum
Hirabad-II, Saba Qayyum

A group show titled Where The Indus Flows took place at the Koel Gallery recently. The participating 14 artists are members of faculty at the Centre of Excellence in Art and Design (CEAD) in the University of Sindh, Jamshoro, and this show revolves around their individual art practices. However, what ties the show together is the Indus River, which runs through the areas the artists hail from.

Abdul Malik Channa’s visuals consist of drawings featuring scenes from gallery openings. The ‘Art Lover’ series depicts images of people visiting show openings, which are drawn with such realism that one cannot help but get absorbed in the visuals. For example, the piece titled ‘Art Lover-1’ shows eminent art critic Marjorie Husain in the foreground while the shadow of the artist’s son reflects against a wall, almost as if Channa is trying to hide the identity of his son.

On the other hand, Kashif Shahzad’s visuals depict mountainous landscapes which he experienced during his travelling, made out of layers and layers of painted strokes.

An exhibition revolves around the concerns of 14 artists — faculty members at the Centre of Excellence in Art and Design — and how their respective art practices have shaped their identity

Pir Najeebullah’s visuals depict the life of a village, possibly scenes which the artist has experienced in his own life. However, his painting style is highly mysterious, taking into consideration his use of a raw colour palette and solid strokes. For example, his painting titled ‘Mourners’ creates the scene of a funeral procession being carried by a group of people and presents a haunting aura.

Saba Qayyum’s paintings address the surroundings she resides in. By excluding human presence, she invites the viewer into the subjected space in order for him/her to become a part of it.

Ring A Ring’O Roses, Sandleen Maqsood
Ring A Ring’O Roses, Sandleen Maqsood

Sandleen Maqsood’s paintings revolve around the idea of childhood bliss. While some children chant nursery rhymes out of sheer joy during their process of learning, others, who are not fortunate enough to get an education, still enjoy these rhymes while working to make a living. Her painting titled ‘Ring A Ring’O Roses’ depicts a child being surrounded by a floral imagery while at the same time, he is shown to be selling flowers.

Shaukat Ali’s paintings depict clusters of dots transforming into lines in order to reflect upon his own personal thoughts. According to Ali, this repetitive technique is not only a process of healing but also a source to seek silence and tranquility.

Similarly, Usra Shaikh’s visuals are highly detailed studies of crumpled bed sheets, possibly reflecting her personal thoughts which the artist does not want to disclose to the viewer, since a bedroom is a personal space.

Zubair Ahmed Bhutto’s paintings comprise of Mughal miniature figures which are constructed through negative spaces, while the surrounding spaces were filled with pen and ink strokes using a qalam.

King 1, Zubair Ahmed Bhutto
King 1, Zubair Ahmed Bhutto

Amjad Ali Talpur’s paintings depict compass-and-pencil drawings of various shapes, possibly reflecting upon the artist’s own initial process of learning, which must have comprised of learning basic shapes. The visuals could also be representing something which Talpur does not directly disclose to the viewer but has left to individual perception.

Despite each artist addressing his/her own concern, they have stressed upon the importance of art and the role it plays in constructing their identity.

“Where The Indus Flows” was exhibited at the Koel Gallery in Karachi from May 21 to May 31, 2019

Published in Dawn, EOS, June 2nd, 2019