KARACHI: Playwright William Shakespeare strongly believed in divinity. A number of examples can be quoted to support this claim, one of which is a line from the play Hamlet, “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends/ Rough-hew them how we will.” To make it simpler, it means, man proposes, God disposes. In the history of fine art, too, this acceptance of the Almighty has played a major role in promoting creative pursuits, resulting in materialisation of masterpieces that to date prove awe-inspiring for lovers and practitioners of art.
Eminent artist Shakil Ismail’s recently concluded exhibition titled Reflection of the Devine at the Art Scene Gallery is a worthy attempt at showing one’s respect to God by virtue of producing artworks that are marked by calligraphic brilliance and an insightful use of metal, boards, glass and semiprecious stones.
This is no mean feat because what we have on display is a striking combination of two distinct branches of visual art: calligraphy and sculpture. Both require a great deal of finesse. What’s astounding is that the shapes that letters in calligraphy and metal in sculpture take, depend on the maker’s ability to mould them not just with flawless technique but also on the purity of the spirit with which the artist sets out to do the job. Here, Ismail’s spirit is of submission to God, to divine powers. To him, it requires hard work to make the viewer realise the crux of his intent. Therefore he makes sure that the extremely important, perhaps the most important, element of aesthetic grace is not overlooked in the entire endeavour. And Ismail succeeds in that endeavour, because the colours that he decorates his artworks with — blue, green, grey etc — and the lovely shapes of the stones that embellish his frames are pretty special — a sight to behold.
Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2019