There are artists who impress art lovers with their craft, and there are some who make an impact on them with their subject matter. Very rarely does someone surface who astounds both art critics and viewers with his/her technique and content in equal measure, and if you get to see not just one but three such artists under one roof, count yourself blessed.
It was a delight to witness an exhibition of works by three extremely talented artists namely, Ali Karimi, Hussain Chandio and Zeeshan Memon at Karachi’s Chowkandi Art Gallery. The standout feature of the exhibition was that the works of the three artists were markedly different from each other, both in terms of medium and subject matter. Yet, viewing them together or one after the other provided a strange connection, a collective affinity with the painters.
Of the three artists, it was Karimi who pushed the boundaries more with his remarkable gouache on wasli and graphite on paper exhibits. His incisive play on a real image and its shadow depicting the duality or the lack of it in a person was striking. His use of the colour red, representing passion of different kinds, clearly indicated how perceptively the artist had used traditional symbols in an unconventional manner.
One of Karimi’s gouache on wasli pieces must be discussed for its ingenious use of an old concept. It was an apparent depiction of an upside down girl with a fruit over and at a little distance from her head. It’s an artwork that is hard to get off your mind — the artist has intelligently touched on quite a few ideas in just one exhibit. The forbidden fruit for example, or for that matter, the unapproachable human goals or the delusional growth of an individual!
Chandio is known for the seemingly odd angles with which he draws his paintings. His oil-on-canvas exhibits carry a blurry feeling, but at the heart of it, all are human characters viewed from a point that towers over their heads and yet doesn’t dwarf them. The characters remain essentially human with warts and all, despite the farness created by the overhead shots.
Memon examines the effect and influence of Pakistani films on society; by that, he basically implies that the movies which are violence-driven or are fraught with aggression, rub off on none other than the viewers themselves. He doesn’t fully reveal the faces and keeps them in the dark, but the gaudiness of the colours of the clothes worn by his subjects is a dead giveaway of the kind of cinema that Pakistani moviegoers have either been treated or subjected to.