KARACHI: For any artist, the difficulty with trying to draw the lives of those who appear to be disenfranchised for whatever reason is that there has to be an element of verisimilitude in their effort. Empathy and sympathy are not the only two important factors. It has to be felt that the artist knows about their existence inside-out. An exhibition of the latest works of Masood A. Khan titled ‘Dekhi Andekhi’ opened at the Koel art gallery on Thursday. It is quite impressive how the artist has been able to depict his subjects in a true-to-life manner without being preachy about it.
The marked feature of Khan’s artworks is the softness with which he has dealt with some important subjects. Throughout his artworks he has kept a misty feel to them, which serves in two ways.
Firstly, it creates a fuzzy feeling around the houses and households he has painted that keeps interpretation an open subject. Secondly, it is symbolic of the kind of lives his characters lead in which uncertainty, despite the serenity of their surroundings, looms large. This is perhaps why the title of the show suggests both the seen and the unseen facets to their existence.
‘Barish Ke Baad’ (ink and charcoal) helps the viewer get acquainted with the world he has created. The softness of the whole picture and the familiar elements such as the umbrella on a rainy day do not completely disclose the artist’s intent. It is fully revealed in ‘Itwar Ki Subha’ (charcoal and bleach wash). The bicycle, the stillness of the scene and the overarching tree recur in his works with great emphasis. There is rusticity to the whole theme which, among other things, talks about the socio-economic bracket of his characters.
In ‘Zindagi 2’ (ink, charcoal and acrylic) Khan shows his talent to the hilt. It is a striking picture where the viewer cannot miss the postures of the women in it. In spite of the fact that their faces are hard to look at, it is their postures which expose each of their personalities quite lucidly. They are young, old, and not-so-old etc. And all of them seem to have been used as a ‘verb’ in a big sentence and not as a ‘noun’ or ‘adjective’.
‘Umr-i-Masroof Se Ik Lamha Fursat Ka’ (acrylic and ink) has an individual, sombre feel to it that is different from the rest of the exhibits in a way that it breaks the visual monotony. ‘Sirf Ma’ (acrylic, graphite and ink) understandably plays with the symbol of open doors or openings in a house.
The exhibition will remain open till Sept 29.