Some of the artworks displayed at the exhibition.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Some of the artworks displayed at the exhibition.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: Sometimes subjects that are touched upon in art can become one-dimensional. There’s nothing wrong with it, as long as the art produced within its framework enables the viewer to identify with, and moved by it. Take for example, the pandemic. The paintings, sculptures, short films, poems and stories created in/about lockdowns depicted a suffocating scenario highlighting the importance of human interaction. But overuse of such a subject can insulate a creative soul.

Thankfully, things are back to normal and artists are once again exploring a larger world. The latest example of it is an exhibition of paintings by Abid Khalil Ansari titled Reflection of Surroundings that opened at the Art Chowk Gallery on Tuesday.

As the name of the show indicates, the story that Ansari is trying to tell is of the environment that he is familiar with. It’s a story that must be told because it will lend voice to certain voiceless characters he knows – the visual and the auditory coming together by just letting the former (visual) speak – isn’t it fascinating! How does he do that? By capturing the faces and situations that we often come across, look at, sometimes take note of and sometimes overlook. The emotional thread that runs through these acrylic-on-canvas paintings contains the element of perfunctory routines as well as perplexity that they cause. Now it can stem from multiple factors which the artist wants his viewer to delve into.

A note provided by the gallery about the artist says, “Ansari is inspired by his surroundings and depicts interesting facts of society. His work is humorous, somber and sarcastic at the same time … his commentary on situations he experiences around him.”

The adjective ‘interesting’ hints at an important fact: apart from the study of faces, the artist underlines the symbiotic association that exists between human beings and other living creatures. If on one hand, they can be endearing, on the other, they point to alienation that many face in a society where selflessness is a rare commodity. And Ansari puts this message across by placing his protagonists in colourful settings.

The exhibition, curated by AJG Studio, concludes on May 20.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2022

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