Engaging epilogue

Published November 16, 2023

 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: Doctor Faustus is one of playwright Christopher Marlowe’s masterpieces. He uses an epilogue (a part of the concluding act) as a technique to show to the audience that Faustus’s decision to live a life of pleasure for a particular time period is a deeply flawed one. An exhibition of Mohammad Uzair Akram’s artworks at the Art Chowk Gallery, which will conclude on Friday (tomorrow), is also titled Epilogue. But here the artist hasn’t employed the word in the same sense but with no finality in sight. Rather, he wants the viewer to look through his exhibits for what’s there in front and what comes at the ‘end’ in a deeply personal sense. One shall come to that point a touch later.

Most of the artworks on display are made with pen and ink. This signifies that the emphasis is on drawing, the most fundamental and arguably the most challenging aspect of fine art in terms of craft. Akram’s lines are strong and engaging. Engaging in the sense that while he makes images that can be interpreted in multiple ways by the viewer, there’s a common thread that runs through all of them which can be traced to the artist himself. The piece ‘I draw therefore I am’ is a piece of evidence in that regard.

Now coming back to what was discussed in the beginning, the write-up that the gallery has provided to introduce the show suggests: “Epilogue is a conversation of time within a space that contains a body of work that is a visual memoir. Walk in, cross the threshold, before you begin, end with a conversation. Everything begins at some end. Welcome to the end.”

By saying that it’s a visual memoir, memory or the past is evoked. At the same time, the artist wants the viewer to strike up a dialogue with the artworks so that his creative output finds meaning in more ways than one with a fair degree of continuity despite the end in sight. There are exhibits such as ‘Shanaakht’ and ‘Pehchaan’ which point out that living in any shape or form is an ongoing exercise.

Striking stuff!

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2023

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