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

KARACHI: The word ‘missing’ has reentered the lexicon with all its negative connotations that one can think of. But it can also be used in a positive way. For example, when someone says, ‘I miss you’, invariably the implication is that the absence of the person who is being missed has made the heart grow fonder.

An exhibition of eminent artist Munawar Ali Syed’s latest body of work titled Talash-e-Gumshuda (Search for the Lost) that’s under way at Sanat Initiative is an engaging show in the sense that the search that’s being referred to allows the viewers to participate in the artist’s creative output as creatively as they can. Therefore, it’s a positive.

Here’s what the artist has to say about the whole exercise: “My multidisciplinary art practice focuses on issues pertinent to the social stratification system that categorises people into standings of socioeconomic tiers based on factors such as race, colour, wealth, income and education. The effects of such influences are amplified in materialistic urban life in cosmopolitan cities like Karachi where social division creates anxiety, inequality and self-absorbed attitudes towards life… Through careful deconstruction of the aesthetic components of the most mundane and functional objects of consumption, often discarded and disused, I seek to transcend the traditional dichotomies such as structure from the agency, high from the low, concepts from the value and the sacred from the profane.”

These are words uttered by a deep thinker. But what’s so remarkable about the show is that Munawar is a ‘doer’ as well – an enviable combo. His work has awe-inspiring kinetic energy that results in the creation of some brilliant artworks. Primarily, he has used three different media to back up his arguments with. The first is pen and ink on archival paper (the ‘Diary’ series); the second is powder coated metal (the ‘Between the Lines’ series); and clear resin, silicon plastic, metal and paint (‘Hay Se’). And all of them are done with such artistic abandon and flair that it becomes difficult to claim which is the most striking. Probably, his ability to use art as a communication tool and his love for, and understanding of, the importance of lines come to the fore more forcefully in the ‘Between the Lines’ series. It’s like watching a play within a play. Stupendous!

A must-see show which concludes on May 19.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2022

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