Often, it is interesting and rather essential to observe an artist’s works by following the trajectory of the path that he or she has followed, thus reaching to the culmination that hangs as the final piece in an art gallery. Thus it can be even more fascinating to be mesmerized by the maturity, depth and introspection that an artist can show with their first professionally exhibited works. Six fresh university graduates exhibit their works at Sanat Initiative’s art gallery titled Department Store, curated by Muhammad Zeeshan. While I found all of the works engaging and communicative, I will particularly discuss works of Amna Rehman, Saddam Murad and Muzammil Khan which I found outstanding of the lot.
Amna paints fearlessly with a liberty that unfortunately our society fails to appreciate or even bestow upon individuals who desire freedom of expression more than anything. Coming from her personal space and coalescing with the social horizon disseminated all around us, her works establish a dialogue with the viewer by unraveling many layers. Amna’s works speak of relationships women have with other women. Within the vast landscape of feminine space, the two exhibited paintings titled Just Me and Her and Love Interrupted explore friendship, sexuality, loyalty and trust, to say the least. In a rather oxymoronic setting, the paintings seem very silent yet they are screaming to be heard, to be interpreted and comprehended. Being one of the protagonists in Just Me and Her, the visage of Amna and the second protagonist show a tension yet a comfort zone which the two seem to be sharing quietly. I laud her efforts in not only skillfully painting portraits but high lighting the dialogue which women often silently and pervasively experience in the society but ignore.
Saddam Murad makes use of large canvases with representational yet silhouetted and semi abstract works in monotones. They seem to be dissolving into the backdrop, a strange yet a very aesthetically pleasing quality that lures me closer to his paintings. Upon further inspection I find the surface to be treated to an almost rougher texture which gives further understanding to his motivation; depiction of the treatment that female sex gets through the unwanted yet pervasive spread of patriarchy. A comparison between Saddam and the late Modernist Master Sadequain strikes in my head upon my first impression of his paintings when it comes to using monotone hues a man and woman as subject. In one of the paintings (a diptych) a woman faces a man which seems like a personal setting between the two. This can also be interpreted as a place where the woman is treated inferior. In another, a faceless man and a woman are seated in the nude, side by side yet so separated in terms of socio-economic opportunity and equality.
Muzammil Khan layers his canvas with scenes of his used-to-be home when it was undergoing demolition. He tries to hold on to the memories and his time spent so lovingly under that roof, which unfortunately is nothing but mere memory in his mind. Preserving with an architectural quality of drawing, Muzammil’s work are realistic and nostalgic.
Art by Noshad Ali, Salman Khan and Jazib Jacob are excellent works of non-figurative painting. Salman paints his canvases in shades of grey depicting his sentiment on the growing violence in the world today. Jazib layers his canvas and paper with ink and charcoal to give a microscopic effect, outlining his interest in chemical change and metamorphosis. Finally, Noshad Ali makes use of geometric patterns in grey, giving way to abstraction, a style which flourishes in this particular exhibition throughout. Worth a visit, the show continues till May 18.