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Exhibition: Exploring folklore

April 29, 2012

The Drawing Studio is a small but selective gallery of Lahore, dedicated mainly to the showcasing of contemporary art ever since its inception in 2010. More often than not, it has encouraged young artists to display their creativity, and an interesting variety of work is brought forth for viewers quite regularly. The most recent exhibition includes three young artists, Samina Zaheer, a PhD student at the College of Art and Design, University of the Punjab, Rabia Yaseen; an MS student of painting at Lahore College, Women University, and Ghulam Hussain, a 2010 graduate of National College of Arts, (NCA), Lahore.

Zaheer, Yaseen and Hussain have been thematically bonded by their allusion to folklore and traditional art. Labelled, ‘3 folklorists’ by the curator and gallery owner, Muhammad Ashraf, they seek to construct their images “by locating indigenous metaphors”. For Zaheer, a seemingly child-like expression that exudes spontaneity and takes recourse in simple forms and bright colours is the way to expressing the character of her local environment.

A sense of abandon that is nonetheless controlled by aesthetic considerations is evident in the painted canvases that subscribe to both abstraction and symbolism. They are like an adult version of child art, indulging in endearingly bright colours and bold shapes and forms, though text and calligraphic elements can also be discerned.

Yaseen, on the other hand, has a more contained and measured style, and the colours are also bright and enhanced by textural contrasts. Of the three paintings, two are like cityscapes, while one centres on the form of a large peacock like bird. The abstract cityscapes are more enchanting in the way spaces have been divided and the sensitive way in which details and symbols, such, as doors, windows, and the bird form, have been used to create interest and depth. She is currently engaged in reading Waris Shah’s Heer, and Rumi’s Masnawi, and has attempted to infuse her work with the spiritual essence of their poetry.

Hussain’s woven paperwork is the most original and subtle contribution in this exhibit. Basically a miniature artist, he has utilised his ability for creating detailed and painstakingly made imagery to create three unique pieces which explore the local craft of weaving. Using thick white paper as his medium, he has actually cut innumerable strands of paper, and woven these on another paper which has been finely slit all over. This exercise has been accomplished with perfection and finesse, creating three-dimensional, fine and intricate visuals. A minimalistic use of paint has been made to create emphasis in the otherwise repetitive geometrical pattern that both imitates and glorifies the art of weaving in a cerebral, contemplative manner.

The ‘3 folklorists’ are obviously experimenting with inner impulses and ideas, and have just yet embarked on exploring the theme of folklore. An in-depth study of the same would probably be needed to truly bestow on them the title of ‘folklorists’. As of now, it was an engaging though limited discourse that has room for more expansion.