Young at art: New bid on the block

Published November 1, 2009

The spotlight is beaming on radical new age art, and fresh young graduates have a far greater chance of exhibiting their work in galleries now than ever before. This is particularly so for artists coming out of the country's leading art colleges. Soft landing opportunities have led to a proliferation of young art. The upside to this is that art is flourishing, the downside is that there is a considerable amount of chaff mixed with the grain.

Among the new aspirants only a few have the spark of creativity and determination that brews inside a successful artist, the rest are just toeing the line, rehashing successful formulas or playing to the market. Just as early exposures can provide greater opportunities for career development they can also rob the young artist of the initial struggle that often consolidates art practice.

Emerging artists should get their lucky breaks but they should also recognise the value of quality and substance.


Many resort to gimmickry and are overly buoyed by the momentary market appeal it generates. Some well placed newcomers are even able to generate successful sales on the strength of the social circle that surrounds them. The art market is not as acute a problem to the older and already established artists as their creative habits have set and will not be drastically altered by commercialism, but budding artists should realise that the market is fickle and should not be relied upon as a correct indicator of merit.

Among the current crop of new talent exhibitions at various galleries, a show of NCA graduates Faisal Asgher, Nida Bangash, Naveed Sadiq and Imran Ullah was held at the Indus Valley Gallery. Young curator Nadia Niazy presented this four persons show at the IVS under the title, 'Permutation, Erasure, Trinity and Humour'. Combining four individual expressions professed through four varied media into a single show can be quite a balancing act and the curator tried to play on the principle of unity in diversity to make the group cohere.

The ordinary and the commonplace were well projected as objects of interest by Imran Ullah hailing from Hunza. Sculpting in wood he concentrated on bringing out the details that brought impact to such banal items like a jogging shoe, or a piece of cloth hanging on a peg. Other works like 'Hybrid', portraiture in wood, and, 'Latecomers', a breakfast plate replete with fried egg were well executed and stirred viewer curiosity as well.

Titled 'Permutation', Faisal Asgher's collection of paintings dwelt largely on the process of metamorphosis or transformation. Technically he handles the hazy, ill defined effect of misty evocations, as well as the hand and figure impressions, with a fine sensitive touch and that too with minimal use of colour. But the vaguely suggestive nature of the works shifted the onus of deciphering the painting onto the spectator. A story seems to be threading through the works but if the plot was well resolved it would have created a more distinct impression.

Playing with pattern as a device to express a state of 'Erasure', miniature artist Nida Bangash mixes the traditional design elements of miniature with contemporary art making strategies to describe states of shifting realities. The deftly drawn/painted floral and foliate patterning in 'Blues' is rendered arabesque like on one side and in pixilated form on the other to project a tradition versus modernity stance. With some modulations in design formats this line of thought continues in her other compositions as well.

For Navid Sadiq—another miniature artist—it is her Christian faith that prompts her to produce the 'Trinity' series of miniatures. She explores identity conflicts and examines their context in society in her steamy, cloudy paintings that seemingly hide more than they reveal.

As a curator Nadia Niazi has merely combined four independent artistic expressions into a single exhibition whose impact could have improved if her selection was stringent enough to discard the weaker works. This foursome has not broken new ground—workmanship potential is evident in some pieces, but largely their works conform to most contemporary art doing the rounds these days.



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