Connect and collaborate

Published January 19, 2022
Mudroom, 2021./ Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Mudroom, 2021./ Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: Usually, artists like to work alone. Creativity is essentially a lonely, if not lonesome, act. But since the 21st century has brought with it issues and subjects that painters and sculptors think aren’t of a purely individualistic nature, they willingly work alongside each other to convey a bigger message.

An exhibition titled Ecologies of Displacement curated by Sana Bilgrami in which works of two artists — Michele Marcoux and Farrukh Addnan — are on display at the Koel Art Gallery is a testimony to the power of creative togetherness.

The girl who fell to earth I, 2021./ Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
The girl who fell to earth I, 2021./ Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

An important nugget of information provided by the curator: “The work created in this exhibition is the outcome of a visual arts residency hosted by Koel Gallery and Summerhall, Scotland’s dynamic cultural hub. The project was one of nine recipients of a ‘Connect and Collaborate’ grant in 2021… Visual artists Michele Marcoux and Farrukh Addnan were amongst 10 artists — five Scottish and five Pakistani artists — whose work was exhibited at the online exhibition Landscape of Memory at the gallery in Nov 2020. They were selected for the residency as both are promising early career artists exploring similar themes in diverse ways in their work.”

Now to the essence of the show! What does displacement imply in the modern-day context? It has at least two answers. One, it is to do with physical movement, from one place to another, for one reason or the other, not necessarily palatable. Two, it can mean a psychological flight, willingly or unwittingly, from a situation. If we look at the world as it stands today, both are relevant. And what’s common in the two ideas is that they leave behind memories that result in the kind of artworks that speak of the human condition which pertains directly to our present as much as to our past.

Jenga, 2021. / Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Jenga, 2021. / Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

While the two artists underline entirely different geographical boundaries and the events that took within them, their topic has a similarity which, in the words of the curator, is: cultural nostalgia. Marcoux uses colours with gentle strokes and familiar images to put the sense of nostalgia across and Addnan employs pen and ink to keep the subtlety of the topic intact, which stems from his lovely idyllic background.

One can’t help but marvel at Marcoux’s eye for detail and love of colour. ‘Outdoor Notations’ (gouache on wood panel) is a good example. For Addnan, the ‘Relocated’ series (pen and ink on wasli) is worthy enough for the viewer to be filled with wonder.

The show concludes on Feb 2.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2022

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