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Artists’ work: Engaging encounters

February 13, 2011

The seven-person show titled, ‘Encounters’ that was displayed recently at Lahore’s Rohtas Gallery brought together a thought-provoking medley of ideas and mediums.

The artists’ Aamir Habib, Noor Yousof, Sivim Naqvi, Filza Ahmad, Seher Naveed, and Ammad Tahir are all graduates of Karachi’s Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture,while Madiha Bano graduated from Karachi University. They had been brought together for this exhibition by curator Zarmeena Shah, also an Indus Valley graduate with a master’s degree in curatorial studies from Columbia University, USA.

“Warning: we are required to treat you as though you would sue us over accidents or injuries resulting from your own stupidity,” is one of the statements that formed part of the large digital print on a light box by Habib, an eye-catching, colourful visual that set the tone of the exhibition as one entered the gallery.

The print was made to look like a computer board with various switches, knobs and contraptions between which one could see politically provocative images; Osama bin Laden, George Bush, a Mughal emperor, and others, and then there were various labels, texts and symbols. Framed by a bright pink neon light, the upbeat artwork was both amusing and witty.

Yousof’s ‘Shared space’, was a self portrait that made use of paper, mirror, graphite and paint, and alluded to a deep pondering over time, space and memories, in an attempt to instigate questions in the viewers mind about how we perceive the reality of our existence.

Naqvi’s digital prints and drawings with graphite on paper were simple but engaging works that evoked a sense of quick movement and freedom from constraint, while Ahmad’s installation made with plastic bags and mechanical gadgets was an intriguing piece that could not be ignored.

The rhythmic inflation of the skilfully connected bags made it appear like a living entity, and its objective was to mimic the breathing mechanism of a human being and remind us of the suffocation that plastic bags will ultimately lead to.

Another installation by Bano was a minimal and sensitive work that made use of small found objects, giving them a new life and meaning just through skilful placement. Tahir’s drawings with ink and felt tipped markers were reminiscent of teenage doodling and drawings and he had made use of imagery from comic strips sporting super heroes and evil beings in a manner that conjured sinister happenings and stories in one’s mind. The artist’s confession of his preoccupation with the deadly happenings in the city of Karachi made his visuals take on a new meaning and significance.

Naveed’s digital montage on paper also referred to socio-political anxieties and happenings but in a different way. The technique of creating images through photography and superimposing of imagery and combining them with painted symbols was done skilfully and in a manner that was subtle but yet engaging. All in all, curator Shah had put together a visually and mentally stimulating exhibit that leads viewers to explore various creative possibilities.