ISLAMABAD: The first woman, Eve, is someone all women often think about. She is the inspiration behind a powerful collection of paintings, created by 13 renowned female artistes, exhibited at Tanzara Gallery in collaboration with Studio RM. The show is called Eve’s I/Eye.

“It is an ensemble of artworks that are different from each other, created with the intent of celebrating feminism for its distinctiveness. The soul of this exhibition aims to celebrate the female as an individual, her ambitions, perfections and imperfections while bringing out her struggles, challenges and her endurance,” said curator of the show Noshi Qadir.

It is a depiction of how a woman combats all obstacles that may come her way throughout her life, yet she marches on in this beautiful journey called life embracing self-love, self-care and resilience, she said.

Laila Rehman’s work shows two sides to Eve; one is destructive while the other is generative. She used the pomegranate in Babel Tower, symbolising the female figure as divisive and then Omphalos high lights how integral she is to nature and the larger scheme of things. Rehman received her bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the National College of Arts (NCA) and then went on to study at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design in London.

Meher Afroz, a professor at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, in Guftagu created imagery that shows the structure of a letter. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Pride of Performance Award from the government.

Nausheen Saeed’s Remains of the Day, Anatomy of Time and Mapping the Terrain show abandoned places symbolising long forgotten pleasures and pain. Her work seemed to be an attempt at preserving all things lost. She acquired a post graduate degree in site specific sculpture from Wimbledon College of Art, London and has been showing her work extensively in important group exhibitions internationally.

Nazia Ejaz used fruits that grow on trees as symbolism for messages. She received her master’s degree from the Slade School of Art (University College London).

Nurayah Sheikh, who is an art educator and a visual artist, used mixed media in her prints. She used flowers, stems and plants to convey to the viewer that nature carried deep within it several messages.

Rabeya Jalil is a visual artist and art educator based in Lahore. She received her undergraduate degree from the National College of Arts (2005), Lahore and a Masters in Education from Columbia University. There is more than mere expressions, like in the painting and drawing of Rabeya Jalil. In her 16 piece-wall installation, Eves, Jalil draws faces of women, stylised, exaggerated, even distorted, yet one could guess separate identities of each individual. Perhaps a comment on how a person was molded modified, managed for an outsider’s view and interpretation.

Rabia Farooqui, also a visual artist trained in miniature painting, used gouache on wasli as her medium of choice. In her work, she explored complexities of human relationships by assembling objects and figures into captivating visual narratives. She created characters that were vulnerable, unguarded, unprotected and completely authentic in their current state to capture the essence of insecure attachments and ways they use to express affection; some of her characters seemed to be controlling and demanding while others seemed to be submissive and loving.

Rehana Mangi’s miniature works involved drawing, painting, collage, needlework, embroidery and so on. She is most known for the level of intricacy in her cross- stitch.

Romessa Khan’s analytical drawings seemed to indicate that she wished to simplify the complexities of existence.

Saba Khan’s paintings (oil on paper) titled Sonic Signals and Mining for Water, seemed to be an attempt to warn people about the unavoidable future. Employing a popular pictorial vocabulary, Khan incorporated human figures and other elements along with text in her work.

Sana Arjumand’s work features intricately layered paint, bringing together figures and birds. She used a luminously radiant colour palette that is known to be uniquely hers.

Saulat Ajmal is an artist, writer and curator. Creating suggestive forms using gestures and colours, she incorporated a visceral sensibility into her works.

Visual practitioner and contemporary miniaturist Warda Shabbir’s work features rows of flower beds and green patches symbolising pathways, both modern and primordial, for Eve. Shabbir through her exquisite gouache on paper works, seems to be highlighting for the viewer the distinction between heaven and earth.

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2022

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