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Nomadic life captured in colours

August 31, 2012

ISLAMABAD, Aug 31: His water colours are the spontaneous expressions of creative impulses within him. And visitors on the preview day described Ali Abbas’ paintings as ‘extremely real’.Wandering Colours, a new exhibition of paintings by this contemporary water colourist at gallery6 that will open on Saturday, captures life with brush strokes.

The subject of Abbas’ painting is the nomads of rural Sindh and his primary medium of painting is water colour. He works on location, creating movement in his compositions by depicting scenes of daily chores, labour, migration and dance, under the dramatic influence of winds and shadow. His main subject is women, who are the managers of the family in the nomadic life. His canvases are not mere statements; they also witness his admirable drawing skills, and painterly sensibility which he has gained through practice over the past two decades.

His palette is close to reality, concentrating on sandy atmosphere and situations arising out of storms. Through dusty wind, Ali Abbas makes an effort to portray their living environment. The bright coloured dresses and amulets of womenfolk also remain under the spell of sand. In this aura, Ali Abbas creates situations focused on the living of the people against an ocean of sand. He gives future to an empty space with colours breathing with life in the vastness of the desert.

His early works centred on the expressions of the desert people, mainly focussing on male figures in the garb of faqeers and jogis. Then he moved on to the depiction of situations of everyday life in Thar. Now, combining the two, Abbas has added a third dimension to his canvass – the landscape of Thar.

Abbas now mainly portrays women and children of Bheel and Kohlee gypsies in colour and spirit. One can see a carefree attitude and a sense of freedom.

He has brought forth, with full force, the simplicity of life imaging assets a gypsy family can have. Abbas captures with vivacity and heartfelt feelings their moment to moment existence - living at the mercy of nature, which brings about drought, famine and rain governing their way of living.

Discussing the works, Dr Arjumand Faisal, the curator of gallery6, said: “Ali Abbas is a visual anthropologist, who specialises in the people living on fringes.

His work is a manifestation of in-depth observation and research on nomadic people in Sindh that he presents using his visual vocabulary of bright colours against tones of black and wide open spaces. His brushwork explains their world as a philosopher narrating an experiential tale.”

Abbas acquired a master’s degree in fine arts from Jamshoro University, Sindh, and became a teacher of fine arts in his Alma Mater in 1992 and remained there for 10 years.

He helped establish Department of Fine Arts at Iran Cultural Centre in Jamshoro. In between he came to Karachi and taught at the Central Institute of Arts and Crafts for one year. He has also worked in the Department of Architecture, Mehran University.

At present, he is working as assistant professor, Department of Fine Arts, Centre of Excellence in Art and Design, Mehran University Jamshoro.

The exhibition will continue till September 14.