Stories galore

Published January 21, 2022
‘Mapping Lament II’
‘Mapping Lament II’

ART is all about storytelling. It reflects life through storytelling. It’s one of the fundamental differences between man and other living beings: the former tells stories. Take the example of the famous Arabian Nights which to date is working for creative souls as fodder for narrating tales.

An exhibition of Sabina Gillani’s artworks curated by Salima Hashmi titled Hazaar Dastaan which can be seen at the Canvas Art Gallery is also about stories. With a difference… and it’s something to mull over.

‘Warp and Weft III’
‘Warp and Weft III’

Sabina in her statement first touches upon the technical aspect of her effort where she says she thinks of herself as printmaker who paints. It is when she talks of the content of her exhibits that one needs to pay more attention to: “Responding to events in Iraq and Afghanistan, I started to explore the notion of identity and violence in 2007 leading to the ‘portrait of a suicide bomber’ series. The work addressed the dichotomy between acts of extreme violence and its supposed objective, paradise – the state of subliminal beauty. However, as violence spread into Pakistan and then France, over time, my approach changed. Rather than thinking of it in abstract terms, it drove me to reflect on the pain, suffering, loss and destruction caused by violence…”

Inspecting the artworks on display, these four words – pain, suffering, loss and destruction – become not just visible but tactile. The subtle touches that she uses to emphasise the subject with the help of pigments and tea wash on handmade paper serve her purpose well. The splotches and marks that the viewer sees in frames which are highlighted by images such as a piece of clothing (‘The Mapping Lament’ series is a powerful example) in the foreground is a reminder of life’s fragility in a tough-as-nails world. And Sabina’s work poignantly draws attention to the fragility.

The exhibition concludes on Jan 27.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2022

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