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Photo art: Our picturesque world

July 29, 2012

The Pakistani Photographers Association (PPA) recently put together an exhibition at Lahore’s Nairang Gallery. Titled, ‘Vision in light’, the show displayed more than a 100 photographs taken by around 23 photographers including both amateurs and professionals, who earlier went through a selection process determined by PPA.

The organisers of the exhibition reiterated that in this particular exhibition, they had tried, “to help people recognise the beauty of each creation, relive that captured moment and find beauty in every miniscule thing around”. Whether this was to be found in nature, architecture, people, places, animals or objects of utility, it was included in the vast repertoire of images on display. Indeed viewers were transported into a world of bewitching sights, many familiar or even common, but in many cases presented with such clarity and even passion that they took on new meaning and importance.

Landscapes are as popular a theme with photographers as they are with painters. The picturesque beauty in nature is always a balm for the soul, and a number of participants had provided just that for the viewers: Faisal Zahoor’s untitled landscape in shades of green and blue, Asmar Hussain’s image of a tree with light filtering through the branches and Agha Asif’s enchanting blossom tree were some of the many memorable visuals on display.

Amongst photographs relying on architectural facades and interiors, those focusing on the play of light and dark, shadows and silhouettes, were most effective; a few examples of which are Zeeshan Qamar’s focus on an extended array of arches and doorways, Hassan Soherawardy’s image of a door and the contrast of light and darkness and Syed Ghazi’s focus on shadows, again seen in an open doorway. There were other variegated images related to our architectural heritage, including the Derawar Fort, Tombs in Uch Sharif and other more commonly captured views such as those of the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore. A number of seascapes especially those by Taabish Naeemi, which focused on boats huddled up at shore, had a poignant charm.

Many photographers had also chosen to zoom into common people, objects and entities, highlighting for example, the details in the face of an old man, the myriad colours and patterns of flowers or even insects, while a few had focused on mundane objects in a special way. An image of an array of matchsticks by Ghazi comes to mind in this context.

Very few photographers had chosen to explore black and white or monochrome sepia photography even though these have immense potential for creating artistic images. Brightly coloured photographs may be lively and catchy in their appeal but often tend to have the feel of typical post card or tourist photography. It would be recommended that the PPA encourages the aforementioned as well. Additionally, individualised framing and variation in sizes, rather than the repetitive format seen in the exhibition may be suggested. Also, the printing of artists’ names in bold letters within the picture frame tends to be aesthetically unappealing and can be avoided.

Nonetheless, credit is due to the organisers of the PPA who put together an exhibit that provided viewers with an array of inspiring images, that transported them into a world replete with beauty and charm that is very much a part of our lives but which is often taken for granted.