Musings of the artist

Published February 3, 2024
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 Greek mythology, the muses are the goddesses of the arts. One account suggests that originally they were the goddesses of poets; subsequently, these daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne became deities of different arts and sciences, such as tragedy, comedy, history and dance. The words musing and museum are derived from this linguistic aspect of mythological wisdom. Shireen Kamran’s exhibition at the Canvas Art Gallery, which concluded on Thursday, is titled Musings. Apart from the above-mentioned connotations, the artist here is referring to ‘reflection’.

The most interesting part of the show is that while reflecting on her endeavour to express herself, the way she chooses to do so isn’t uncomplicated or linear. She has employed abstraction to put her ideas across. This can be an utterly demanding undertaking because abstract forms of izhaar work well when the artist uses the canvas with a great degree of imaginative abandon. And Shireen is that kind of a creative soul. Her abstraction has the urgency of a piece of fiction produced with a consuming passion for language and the heart-warming rhythm of a poem penned in free verse. As a result, the viewer gets to see a dozen delightful artworks in the form of the ‘Wanderings’ (pigments, acrylic, collage on canvas) and ‘Maqam’ series.

Before the viewer gets so absorbed in her warm colours and swishy strokes, it would be of benefit to know that “the paintings embody an ongoing exploration of Sufi philosophy as an act of deep contemplation and a means of processing the world”. Once knowing this, subjects such as maqam and wonderings become more enjoyable to spend time with. A Sufi believes in the power of the soul which takes him closer to the divine. And what better way to opt for abstraction to depict the wanderings of the soul!

Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2024

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