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Visual language of miniature painting explored

June 21, 2012

ISLAMABAD, June 21: A new exhibition at the Satrang gallery explores the vibrant visual language of miniature painting and its continued significance in the contemporary art scene.

It also explores elements of miniature painting, the rigorous discipline and meticulous application required to its central narrative function.

These connect the five miniature artists who brought their works to the exhibition titled ‘Gridation’ Thursday evening.

Each artist works within individual themes and produces work that is unique, yet there is a common thread that tied the display together. This connection was visually clear since the pieces featured bold vertical lines and various planes of depiction. The motivation behind this collection of work investigated man’s relationship with technology and innovation.

Artists like Afshan Yousuf, Fahad Hameed, Noureen Rasheed, Shahzad Hassan Ghazi and Shiblee Munir combined exciting visual depictions with traditional miniature and printmaking to create new dimensions and genres of these artistic techniques. Marilyn Wyatt, the wife of US ambassador to Pakistan, found it fascinating that in the use of traditional techniques and motifs of miniaturism, there was a reflection of the gradation of time.

“The past is present, but has also morphed into something quite different. And similarly, the future holds the promise of both continuity with and change from today,” she said while announcing the display open.

Shahzad Hassan Ghazi displayed this relationship by painting upon sheets of tin. This distinctive representation added an interesting dimension to his subject matter. Ghazi had chosen to portray electrical towers and transformers in his pieces, and selected a base that would transform over time, while his paintings remained unchanged. Ghazi openly analysed the link that humans had with technology, in particular with communication.

Afshan Yousaf’s art examined similar themes. Yousaf painted in the miniature tradition and unlike Ghazi had presented her pieces upon conventional wasli. However, her subjects were quite unconventional. She portrayed chessboards, masks and electrical towers in her work, and in doing so, she likens life and art to a game of chess – a confined power play.

As a new media artist Fahad Hameed was concerned with mankind’s growing reliance upon technological innovation. His work represented man’s disregard for the environmental effects of his actions. Hameed’s work was traditional in subject matter - a man in a Mughal garb, or the portrayal of a battle scene. However, his methods were unique. He had obscured those traditional scenes with complicated grids made of strong lines and colour blocks.

Noureen Rasheed’s works represent her experience with traditional studies of miniature paintings. “I am interested in exploring the original core of miniature art – the rigid and unbreakable rules, and the visual composition that these create,” said the painter, adding how she enjoyed examining the smooth and divided planes of miniature art and the delicate, fine lines that created rich and powerful pieces filled with meaning and movement.

And Shiblee Munir enjoyed working in the technique of miniature painting not simply to continue the historical tradition of his family, but also to revive this generation’s awareness regarding this particular age and era. In this recent body of work, he focuses on the idea of miniature paintings through conceptual, formal and social analysis.

“I am working within the confines of a strict code of visual ethics by painting in the technique of miniature paintings.

However, I am eager to identify and discover innovative ways to produce miniature art that is connected to historical visual imagery, but which is unique and accessible in this technological era,” he said.

The exhibition will continue till July 20.