Published in Art Now Magazine, September 2017 http://www.artnowpakistan.com/prophesies/
In 1913, Umberto Boccioni contributed to the movement of Futurism with his ‘Dynamism of a Cyclist’, a painting of blue tones and a few others, capturing the concept of time entangled with movement and mechanism. He was not the first and will certainly be not the last artist to record and glorify scientific concepts by looking into their concepts as they unravel all around us. Throughout the course of art history and in different eras, visual artists have chalked out creative ways to explore time and space as they weave around complex webs around not only the objects and people around them but also themselves. In a similar yet a new fashion, Sajjad Ahmed curates Prophesies at Sanat Initiative, a show constituting works of six artists who have worked to emphasise their points of view through versatile mediums. Layered with medium within a medium, the show presents how the artworks are a source of looking into the evolution and the transition of the artist’s works over time, linked with time per se. Fusing these works together are the ubiquitous yet uniquely explored concepts of time and perception.
I would particularly like to discuss works of Roohi Ahmed which have always been rooted in her sense of her perceptions of the society and experience. Over the years, Roohi has dextrously worked with thread and yarn, public art installations in sand dunes and beaches, sculpture, digital drawings, cartography and painting. Her eloquent works have reflected her fascination with exploring certain sentiments from personal endeavours, religious, social and political ideologies, mostly with or in the form of needles and threads. The works at this show strike as thoughtful and meaningful as ever. In one of her works Untitled, we see close up digital images of what appears to be threads, sewn on a cloth in some and reaching outward, toward something indefinite in others. From being accomplished on a macro-scale in her public art works and huge thread sculptures, Roohi’s approach in art brings the zenith of our concentration on a much closer, a microcosm of threads in terracotta like tones of red, brown and pale white. We feel alone and yet surrounded with entities in this mammoth universe as we look closely at the work.
‘A Moment of Silence’ is another capturing digital work, being a 28 seconds mono channel video in which a typical looking screen faces the viewer. Upon close inspection, one can find this moment of silence to be fashioned out of needles, I find it critically reflective upon the after effects of religious and politically backed tragedies.
Muhammad Zeeshan works in a layered form as printer pumps out images from the movie Titanic. Altered to reflect upon censorship in our media, the image brings out the ironic humor as we see Kate Winslet censored with a bathtub duck as she poses nude to be drawn by the male protagonist in one of her most famous scenes of the movie. Zeeshan’s choice in art here stems from a simple form, borrowing of images from media of foreign lands yet interplaying them with the policies of ours, to bring out how over time we have evolved in these matters. The inspiration; introspective at its best, probably comes from a conversation he had twenty years ago, in which the person being spoken to was being given the example of ‘Jack’ and his prodigious skill in drawing. Zeeshan has cleverly been able to escape the amount of time that manual art work brings with itself by employing these themes in memory, perception, time, nostalgia, humor and censorship through this one eye catching digital piece.
In other works, Ehsan ul Haq uses images of animals (a horse and a goose separately) to emphasize upon the relationship between nature and man-made objects. Adeel Uz Zafar has pondered over time and events in his social experiment ‘Glitch’, which comes off as an engaging installation played on a vintage TV set. Other participating artists include Ali Kazim and Shalalae Jamil. Prophesies reminds us of how Salvador Dali worked with encapsulating ideas in time, memory and perception back in the time when Surrealism was prevalent. It is a proof of the artists’ meaningful contact with their chosen mediums as they fuse their selected ideas with such intriguing concepts through these unusual works.