To mother, with love

October 11, 2019

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Two of the artworks put up on display.—White Star
Two of the artworks put up on display.—White Star

KARACHI: How does it feel to be an artist of high merit and the son/daughter of a legendary artist? It’s a tricky subject to raise, because only that artist can give the answer to the question, and no creative person worth their salt can come up with a response that can make mortal souls empathise with them completely.

The reference here is to the iconic singer, the late Noor Jehan, and her artist daughter Nazia Ejaz. The exhibition of Nazia’s artworks titled Love Letters that is under way at the Canvas Art Gallery is a beautiful, heartfelt homage to her mother. Mind you, setting up the show could not have been a walk in the park. The reason for it is that no one

can adequately praise the prodigious talent and multifaceted persona that Noor Jehan had. And being her

daughter implies a personal facet to the legend which might compromise artistic integrity.

But this is where Nazia has done a tremendous job. She is aware of the situation and familiar with the moodiness that great artists can resort to, and within that zone their creativity sometimes gets a shot in the arm. So Nazia has, in her words, tried to “express something of my sense of her … some glimpses of my time with NJ.”

Consequently, what we see is a remarkable body of work. The artist has captured that ‘sense’ in frames and colours which signify the lightness of soul through floral patterns, geometric designs and fluttering butterflies.

Two cogent examples are ‘Chan Mahiya’ and ‘Dil Dharakne Ka’ (oil and gold leaf on canvas). Obviously the allusion is to the mellifluous Heer Ranjha song and the Nasir Kazmi ghazal feelingly sung by her mother. But the presence of the butterflies in the frame hints at unstinted purity of the spirit without which no artist can soar to achieve greatness. This purity manifests itself in personal day-to-day affairs, in professional pursuits and in matters related to the heart. And Nazia’s exhibits, too, have the same spirit.

The exhibition concludes on Oct 17.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2019