One of the paintings presented in the exhibition paying tribute to Karachi.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
One of the paintings presented in the exhibition paying tribute to Karachi.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: The city of Karachi has inexplicable magnetism. Despite the cacophony and hullabaloo that’s the hallmark of the Third World’s urban culture those who are born or raised here never find it easy to take it out of their system — its cosmopolitanism, its constantly on-the-go life, its diverse population. Once a Karachiite, always a Karachiite.

An exhibition of Khalid Khan — Kaay’s artworks titled Tribute, which is under way at the Art Scene Gallery — gives off a similar vibe of love for the city by the sea.

Khan’s tribute to the Sindh capital has, in cinematic terms, a wide-angle feel to it. From faces to pictures of boats and from children’s rides to the old colonial buildings which need care and respect, the artist covers all with a fair degree of nostalgia. Perhaps nostalgia is not the right word, but what one intends to imply is that he wants to preserve the images that stay with him as part of his creative and physical upbringing. He does that by using free-flowing strokes and colours that truly represent the activity filled days and evenings of the megapolis, which distinguish it from the rest of Pakistani towns.

In his statement Khan writes, “I left Karachi 26 years ago but it seems that Karachi has never left me. This is the city where I was born and grew up, making lots of memories. Every time I visit the city, it feels like time travel. Even though the city has changed a lot over the years, I never get lost when I go for a walkabout… Pakistan Chowk, Saddar, Kharadar, Ranchhor Line, Ratan Talao, Bolton Market, Lea Market, Denso Hall, etc, are my favourite parts of the city. It is sad to witness the deterioration of these places.”

This sadness of the artist results in that ‘unappeased yearning to return’ to a space where life becomes nothing but a bundle of memories. It also results in the creation of some eye-catching works of art.

The exhibition concludes on Dec 10.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2021

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