KARACHI: Usually when several artists get together to put up a show, it is very difficult to find the common thread that runs through their collective effort. It happens because each artist, even if his or her art is derivative, is distinguishable from the other.
In this regard an exhibition of three artists’ works – Alia Bilgrami, Momin Zafar and Nida Bangash – that began at the Koel Gallery on Thursday was different. Reason being: the title of the show is ‘Left Behind’. It implies the ‘impermanence’ of things, tangible and intangible, that belong to a bygone era and the desire to revive them. The three artists have worked with and within this theme.
Nida Bangash employs photographs used to authenticate travel documents, or more specifically, passports. She tries to go behind the rationale of being photographed in order to travel. The series ‘The Ultimate Guide To Healthier, Less Toxic Living’ (ink on wasli) indicates the fact that such a pursuit takes away the aesthetics of a picture and replaces it with a matter- of-factness which does not accord with the self. The artist succeeds to a fair degree in looking at reality with a unique angle.
Momin Zafar captures feelings of nostalgia through photography. He is in awe of his grandfather’s ancestral place (51-A Ferozepur Road) and has tried to capture it when it was not (or about to be) razed to the ground. The sadness caused by the demolition and the urge to relive what his grandfather had lived have resulted in fine images. In one particular picture he keenly captures the wooden door, the bricks and the old staircase of the house, giving an air of timelessness to a view which exists no longer.
Alia Bilgrami deals with the same subject in a markedly different light. Her work has more personal content, albeit in a rather recondite way. The artist tends, or seems, to internalise what she feels, sees and goes through. The exhibits that she’s put on display speak volumes for her urge to tackle the transient nature of life, while finding it hard to come to terms with what can be done and what cannot be undone. ‘Mapping Memories’ (gesso, acrylic, charcoal on plywood and Canson conservation board), ‘Blood Tulip’ and ‘Left Behind’ (liquid printing) appropriately go with the subject of the exhibition.
‘Left Behind’ will continue till April 20.