EXHIBITION: THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS

Published February 12, 2023
Buried Under Pressure, Urooj Iftikhar
Buried Under Pressure, Urooj Iftikhar

Recent art graduates from universities across Pakistan were sent a call to display their thesis projects in the summer of 2022. A selection process occurred, out of which the “18th Emerging Talent Show” emerged at the VM Art Gallery of the ZVMG Rangoonwala Trust.

The show houses various emerging artists from across Pakistan. A few of the universities that are represented in the show are the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVS) and the University of Karachi from Karachi, the University of Punjab and the National College of Arts (NCA) from Lahore, the University of Balochistan from Quetta, the University of Gujrat from Gujrat, Bahauddin Zakariya University from Multan and the Government College Women University from Sialkot.

The aim of the show is to inspire young, aspiring artists from across art institutes to be in conversation with one another — to further the dialogue of the visual and fine arts in Pakistan. VM Art Gallery gives them the access and skill set needed to work in a gallery setting right upon graduating. They train them about the methodologies when working in the space of a gallery and how to conduct themselves in a successful manner.

This educational programming is also an inherent part of VM Art Gallery’s long history and vision, since its inception in 1987. This was initially under the leadership of contemporary artist Riffat Alvi.

A group show aims to inspire young, aspiring artists from across art institutes to be in conversation with one another — to further the dialogue of the visual and fine arts in Pakistan

The the “18th Emerging Talent Show” is divided into four rooms, showcasing a wide range of techniques, concepts and skill. There is no singular theme, as the concept is to display successful, final theses. However, one can identify various subject matters emerging within the show that may speak to a further collective consciousness within Pakistani artists and society.

Psychedelic Spectrum of Thatta’s Untold Stories, Bisma Daim
Psychedelic Spectrum of Thatta’s Untold Stories, Bisma Daim

One such example of this is the thematic exploration of nostalgia, displacement and confinement. Amerzish Khalid’s Untitled explores the gap of verbal communication and the effect it has on human relationships. She plays with negative space in her painting, especially contouring the faces to indicate the lack of effective conversation.

Adan Shaikh actively participates in her work and showcases the lens of an immigrant. She explores a sense of homelessness derived from her personal experience of migrating from Hyderabad to Karachi, and aims to uncover the physical temporality of ‘home’ as a result of that.

Another major theme running through the show is one of sustainability and ecological relationships between human, land and animal. Here, we see subjects such as a housefly by Aqib Javed, who dissects its anatomy to reveal its more colourful side, to display a beautified image of the otherwise vilified insect, successfully changing the viewer’s perception.

A monarch butterfly by Uswa Shafi is examined through the viewpoint of conservation, with the butterfly serving as its symbol. She looks to the butterfly to investigate influences towards public discourse and policy-making.

Furthermore, a returning to the natural landscape is also witnessed, with pieces such as Jannat ke Darakht by Fizza Aslam, which portray a visual picture of rhythmic balance and geometrical harmony found in trees, leaves and flowers. Meanwhile, Nimra Shakeel’s Little Reflection series is a set under the vast sky, against the almost paranormal, mystical trees at Ayub Park, Rawalpindi.

Another gripping occurrence at the show is the reworking of miniature painting techniques and Islamic art, such as older designs like the Shamsa, which was created around 1645. A visual dissection of traditional, miniature paintings is also present. Some of the artists that work within this experimentation include Abbas Ali, Talia Noor and Ufaq Altaf.

The ‘18th Emerging Talent’ is on display from Jan 14-Feb 16, 2023 at the VM Art Gallery, Karachi

The writer can be reached @zehrajabeenshah or at zehra1593@hotmail.com

Published in Dawn, EOS, February 12th, 2023

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