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Young at art: Karachi calling

October 22, 2011

To show affection for a city that one’s long been a part of is one thing. But to glean meaning out of its ostensibly mundane, everyday (if somewhat morbid) happenings and express them through artistic expression is something that not many are able to do effectively.

Sara Rizvi is a young artist, and a talented one at that. What’s noteworthy about her personality (which rubs off onto her art) is her deep fondness for the city of lights, the city by the sea and the city that never sleeps: Karachi.

The exhibition of Sara Rizvi’s work (pen-work on deconstructed screen) titled, ‘Roshan hai aaj bhi mera shehr’ at Gallerie Sadequain is both a tribute to Karachi as well as a decent endeavour in trying to highlight some of the goings-on that are inextricably attached to the city. The already treated background (fabric) upon which the artist has drawn certain typical images are a testimony to how young people in our country wish to interpret things in their own distinct way, without thinking too much about the present, the now.

As can be gauged by the title of the display, ‘Roshan hai aaj bhi mera shehr’, Rizvi has made a statement. The city is still basking in light, despite the volatility, despite the uncertainty and despite the unbridled violence. This she has inferred through the scenes that one gets to, or, the correct way of putting it would be, she gets to visualise on a regular basis.

Who hasn’t seen the convoluted electricity cables shabbily crisscrossed over a pole like a tangled clump of hair stuck in a comb? It’s a view that a majority of Karachi denizens are familiar with. Rizvi has dubbed it ‘Piyar ka signal’ (love signal). There is a reason for it. Cable wires send electricity signals; they also signify the shoddy ways of communication with which citizens connect with one another. This may also include romantic connections.

‘Chal pagli’ is a typical city snapshot. Rickshaws are a hugely popular means of transport for being a cheap commuting facility as well as for the profound and often witty lines written on their rear side. ‘Chal pagli’ (come on crazy girl) is a phrase which is a favourite among the rickshaw wallahs. The artist has captured the innate wit and the gaudiness of colours pretty well.

Rickshaw features in another exhibit, ‘Hum kis gali ja rahey hain’ (which street are we headed). This time it’s perched on a donkey-cart—a kind of symbiotic representation of existence. The piece that this reviewer likes the most is ‘Hanging chainaks’. Anyone who’s ever had tea at a ‘chai ka hotel’ can easily relate to it and imagine himself or herself in one of the cars that are seen in the background of a bunch of chainaks.

So, on the whole, good stuff!