Mirza’s mastery

Published September 18, 2022
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: In our part of the world, the epithet ‘living legend’ is often loosely used. Legends inspire in ways that help society grow in a positive direction. Legends motivate those who wish to achieve goals in the field of their choosing. Legends trail a blaze. Artist Mussart Mirza is one such person. She deserves the epithet.

Hailing from Sukkur, Mirza — by virtue of her paintings that exude naturalistic warmth and cerebral grace — has been influencing art lovers and practitioners for more than five decades now.

The Koel Art Gallery has celebrated Mirza’s creative journey in the form of a retrospective called Har ja tu by putting on display some of her remarkable artworks, done in oils between 1958 and 2021, at an exhibition that concluded on Saturday.

In order to have a context of the show titled In the realm of light in English, Maha Malik in one part of the rather enthusiastic curatorial note writes, “Mirza’s art appears contemporary — in its perspectives, in the drama of its surfaces. And in the same breath there is also the opposite.

“One wonders at the source of this mood of contemplative stillness, its depths of spaciousness, its ranging weave of lights. The ‘place’ as she knows and is able to convey this appears of another time, station, maqam. In what register does one archive her creative life —world?”

There is so much to unpack in just one paragraph. Drama of surfaces, contemplative stillness, depths of spaciousness and weave of lights! All is true; a good number of more phrases can be coined and yet, the magnetic pull of Mirza’s art would be difficult to fully encapsulate.

Looking at her paintings evoke in the viewer the whole gamut of human emotion and feeling, from déjà vu to the titillation caused by the mysteriously unknown, from the unconditional love of nature and land, to the unappeased urge to explore the vastness of the firmament. Stupendous!

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2022

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