— Photos by Tanveer Shahzad
— Photos by Tanveer Shahzad

ISLAMABAD: A group show titled Trip featuring mainly young artists ventured into surrealism, transcendence, spirituality and human consciousness.

The show opened at Artcade at the Marriott Hotel featuring the work of Zarmeen Akhund, Khushbakht Islam, Makhdoom Sadiq, Talal Qureshi, Amin Gulgee, Adeela Omar, Mahwish Shaukat, Muneeb Faraz and Ghaffar Afridi.

Roma Ali, the curator, said: “The theme is based on surrealism and psychedelic art and most of the works are by artists who are being featured for the first time. They are from all over Pakistan and some are from abroad.”

She explained that they came up with a theme and then searched for artists whose work resonates with the theme.

“We also put a shout out on social media so in some cases artists get in touch with us. Mostly though we pick the artists and we try to get young artists who are starting out,” she said.

National College of Arts graduate Muneeb Faraz, who makes sculptures using spare automobile and vehicle parts, exhibited a spectacular dragonfly at the show.

“I do all my work from spare parts. This dragonfly uses parts from a car, a bike and a fan. I was inspired by the idea that a plane is made to resemble a bird and made the dragonfly out of metal spare parts. My father actually runs a spare parts business in Peshawar and I’m the only artist in my family,” he said.

Talal Qureshi, an electronic music producer, debuted modern holographs inserted into carpets at the exhibition.

Discussing the unusual amalgamation, he said: “This is my first time displaying my work. My pieces incorporate traditional carpets and holographic visuals. The idea came from my late mother’s work, where she did optical illusions on glass paintings. I was always fascinated by that work. I’ve had this idea for a very long time. I make a lot of visuals – I’m a music producer by trade. I haven’t studied either music or art; I just follow my gut feelings. I translate whatever is going through my head into the holographic visuals. It’s incorporating two different worlds together.”

Zarmeen Akhund used mixed media and digital print to create her work. About her work which the artist refers to ‘she’, Ms Akhund said: “She is the soldier beyond all form. She is spirit and she is resolute. My work serves to feed her thirst, to guide her breadth, to grow her battlefield in a concrete world. Through each piece, I seek to uncover the expansion which is her voice. Tender and unwavering, spirit is clear. Life speaks in tongues, holding our silence. Spirit aims to break it.”

Khushbakht Islam, also from NCA, created large canvases in pen.

“My work is about abuse and how very immune we are becoming to the situation [for] so many reasons,” she said. Her pieces depict thousands of fingers spread across canvases, symbolising thousands of people viewing and facing harassment.

Makhdoom Sadiq has used a palette knife to make his oils, explaining: “People do art, especially painting for many reasons of their own. I do art because I have an inner drive for it and I want to express my feelings for the unseen objects, feelings, connections, creatures, etc through it.

“I love colours. I love to play with them, and I love to create new shades, themes and new motifs. I convert my thoughts and vague imaginings into my paintings. My paintings are different not because I want to do different work but because I think differently, and my technique is not that same as others. I am truly inspired by paintings of old masters and modern age artists. I simply live in my paintings and I flow in them.”

Ghaffar Afridi, who exhibited crystal laminated digital prints, explained that his art was “based on concepts of peace, love and happiness”.

“Each work has its own story. I select a word, portrait, figure, shapes or lines to create a motif and convert to a pattern. I use the patterns for conceptual purposes and to fill the emptiness,” he said.

Adeela Omar, a London-based artist and entrepreneur, said: “When I had my spiritual awakening, I was able to break from everything that breaks you down in society. I have been having visions since I was eight years old and I jot all my ideas down and sketch them but I then let them evolve. I trust in the harmony of the universe and I allow that to guide me. I started oil painting three years ago and I find inspiration from my internal self. I’m on a journey of self-discovery.”

Published in Dawn, January 30th, 2020