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Pray Tell opens at Canvas

January 23, 2013

Wives (oil on canvas).

KARACHI: The Renaissance was not just a significant shift in the history of mankind in terms of the revival of knowledge (of Greek ideas, to be precise). It also marked an extraordinary confluence of art and religion. The paintings made in that era (not to mention plays, poems and essays) pulled out Biblical references and allusions from the domain of the clergy and took, nay elevated, them to a level where religion and aesthetics came together in an awe-inspiring manner.

Artist Komail Aijazuddin, an exhibition of whose latest body of work titled ‘Pray Tell’ opened at the Canvas Art Gallery on Tuesday, seems to be inspired by the way western masters employed religious orientation to send across a, perhaps, bigger message.

Aijazuddin has tried to go a step ahead. He has used somewhat a similar technique to touch upon important Islamic events, especially from the Shia perspective. For the uninitiated, it might take some time to grasp the artist’s endeavour. But once the viewer feels the poignancy of the theme, which is shahadat or martyrdom, it would be hard not to acknowledge two things: Aijazuddin’s intensity with which he has been able to interpret the historic events and the finesse that appears to be the standout characteristic of his technical prowess.

Icons (oil and gold on canvas).

Be it mixed media on canvas or oil on wood or for that matter oil and gold on canvas, the artist does not allow the medium to eclipse the content. The medium, of course, justifies the contextual basis (as in Martyr with Halo – mixed media on canvas) but the viewer will be so absorbed in the subject matter that the images created by Aijazuddin will not let go of him to think about anything else. In that regard, the large size of his canvases commensurate with the magnitude of the topic.

Another impressive aspect of the artworks is the air of contemporaneity that the artist creates within the historical framework. ‘Friends’ (oil on canvas) is a good example of it.

The exhibition will continue until Jan 31.