by VEERA RUSTOMJI
The wildlife surroundings of the Ice Age included bisons and mammoths which continuously traversed the mind of the Paleolithic man; this is confirmed by archeological research indicating that the earliest paintings created have drawn direct inspiration from animals. However, historians have always contemplated over the fastened fascination artists share with animals and birds. Their ever increasing importance in art dates back to 23,000 BC and this trend has seeped into the canvases of Pakistani artists. Consequently, one will immediately think of the likes of Jamil Naqsh, yet the art world needs to make room for the new era of naturalistic artists.
Art Scene held an exhibition by Naureen Qamar on 15th which continued till the 22nd of February. Her work in a nutshell could be described as a personal exploration of Mother Nature and her endless bearings she has to offer to our world. With a significant portion of her work dedicated to ornithology, the artist has unraveled and twisted images of dense plantations we are used to seeing. Stylised jungles and trees, elegantly composed branches stretching effortlessly and immaculately detailed feathers are some of the features of her miniature style collection. Graceful spirals of thorns ascending, swaying with the breeze, and swirls of charcoal black trunks mingling with the rustling grass create an ever present symphony. The audience can feel and hear the little sounds vibrating through the forest depictions and while the miniature paintings appear to be dainty and delicate, the artist tantalises her audiences senses, heightening our interest and engagement in the narration of the images.
A series of paintings comprise of birds' silhouettes skidding across a tangerine coloured sky ablaze with the setting sun's rays orchestrate a high pitched far away chorus which emphasise the feeling of remoteness and echoing sound in Naureen Qamar's pieces. However, when talking about the kind of 'presence' one experiences while viewing the work, there is a mixture of desired tranquility and haunting isolation running through the many themes the collection presents. To elaborate on this, some pieces could be taken for example; the towering bare tree trunks, altered severing in purposeful perspective with dark corrosive hues portray an almost judgmental and ominous nature of the trees. This feeling of being watched and judged is further built upon by the glinting round yellow eyes, peering through the tree trunks. One could interpret that Naureen Qamar's work has an overall intimate message from the inhabitants of the forests she depicts: the remoteness of wildlife doesn't truly feel all that detached and secluded. This is made possible by the birds painted within the compositions. These creatures seem partly invisible as they are either tucked away into leaves or flying at a distance, interestingly enough, the birds leave a contrasting impact on the viewer. The detail spent on their feathers, their shining eyeballs and their pointed beaks contribute to their essential role in the collection.
Concentration and a deep attachment from the artist are detected as the images do not simply convey pretty plantations. While of course the paintings are aesthetically attractive and Naureen Qamar plays a great deal with her compositions and juxtapositions, there is a very apparent weariness about the crucial vitality nature has in our lives seen in the contemporary miniatures. Even by using the miniature technique, the historic style of painting initiated by the Eastern empires which still flourishes in our part of the world, the artist places a great deal on preservation. Perseveration of nature through art is not a revolutionary concept, yet each time it is done there is always a very personal interpretation from the artist. The leaves accumulating in round bushy patterns upon healthy colourful trees are awkwardly contrasted to the bare black and white trees reaching into nothingness. This could be translated as the artist's message on how the absence of nature, greenery and forests would feel in life. A startling bleakness is possibly the best way to describe the depictions of the bare tree trunks.
It is understandably why the birds and vegetation share an interchangeable dependent relationship, as they co-exist together. However, Naureen Qamar brings forth a human figure in about two of her paintings, making a slight diversion from beyond human touch' and ecological atmosphere the collection carries. However, the positions and placement of the figure aptly conveys the spiritual flow of the paintings, as the figure and nature appear to be at peace with each other. Her relaxation and subtle demeanor create a similar relationship as with the birds and trees. Ultimately, nature seems to pulsate through all living creatures, the soul of nature renders it's bounties and offerings to all.
Thematically, Naureen Qamar's work relinquish easily to any viewer. Her skill coupled with meticulous concepts rejuvenates the miniature style and announces her work to be extremely sensitive and mature. Rather than illustrating women repeatedly in feminine surroundings, the artist has extended her exploration of miniature by using very apparent design skills. Squaring and separating sections of her pieces show her unique approach on providing a modern twist to miniature painting. While she does not reject tradition, her paintings start at a completely fresh point. Transforming birds mid way, distorting tress and creating shapes within shapes, the collection accentuates the artist's thought process while creating the pieces.
The paintings even invite the viewer to unearth the irreplaceable position nature holds within all societies. Intriguing the eye to notice detail while composing their own story and interpretation from the framed paintings, the artist makes her pro environment message abundantly clear, which is quite possibly the focal area of the collection. Showing that depleting forests and receding nature are not imaginary concepts or theories which seem far from reality, many artists will forever continue to dedicate their work to the most essential creatures that provide security to mankind. Publicising and supporting such endeavor is a reaction that should be expected and initiated amongst relatively environmental unaware societies and this can be done by simply visiting galleries which exhibit such work.