(by VEERA RUSTOMJI)
When you think about the importance art and architecture plays in our history and culture, a multitude of reasons will occur to different people. For instance the origins of Islamic art have been documented by soaring mosques and intricate mosaic pieces which are still a landmark of culture and religion in our country along with other Islamic states. European art grew its roots within the classical Greek era and we still use their technique in making bronze statues and sculptures. Hence, we might think little of a society which lived so many thousands of years before us, yet, they're artistic ingenious has continuously been trickling down in our lives.
Variations of styles and themes were seen in the group show at Grandeur Gallery on the 17th of April, in cooperating some timeless genres such as miniature and impressionism. Giving their art work a fresh and unique feel synthesising elements received from culture and inspiration, the artists explored different mediums and perspectives. Nisar Ahmed's extremely diverse take on the eastern miniature was a pleasant surprise. His vibrant colours and highly stylised personas appeared as a form of craft work. The motifs and compositions speak of dark and mysterious Mughal dor nights yet the colourful abstractions add a sense of pop culture and quirkiness to his paintings. The perfect mix of authenticity and modernity are expressed with the yellow blouses, polka dotted dupattas, mysterious side profiles and stiff architecture. In a particular painting, a close up face portrait of a woman endorses a very certain style of Nisar Ahmed's. Her marbled grey skin with arched rigid black brows set the trend to stiff body proportions indicating the artist's inclination to capture a certain moment. There is certain eeriness to her wide eyes with a burst of citrus colours around her. Yet it all seems to work very well together. This emulsion of texture and colour is seen throughout his paintings and art enthusiasts are encouraged to look up his work and his technique to understand different concepts that are never harsh or utterly random.
Imran Zaib's cultural paintings were another form of personalising an old tradition. Thar women with colourful drapery and elongated white bangles are fused with layers and apparent strokes of thick paint. While the essence of his paintings seem to share the gesture of highly realistic paintings, there is so much more movement and expressionism in his style. The trees sway in the wind with the aid of a range of greens flowing in directions with dupattas. His use of orange and bronze are in very subtle tones which convey the darkness of skin yet the soft faraway feeling of an untouched village. His dedication to highlight the difficulty yet the simplicity in which these women live is something many artists can relate to when painting on a personal subject matter. A few paintings from his 'Cultural Paintings' collection are recreating symphonies from the floods that have devastated the Sindh lands. While some canvases have tones of tragedy and sympathy, others convey the purity and natural earthy beauty of villages; their colours, their smiles and their simple possessions capture not only the artists but his viewers. Timeless themes such as the traditional Sindhi women addressed in hybrid impressionistic amalgamations bring out the skill and passion of the artist.
Concentrating on the effortless beauty which exudes from women, is a theme which will never fail to enamor the artistic mind. Inam Raja finds that women embody the very epitome of beauty and tolerance on this earth, yet his paintings depict a very different take on these two words. The cubist style may depart on a technical scale from Imran Zaib, yet there is a series of gradual movement across the canvases. Layered glazes create a granite like texture and the linear mathematical form of divisions are combined to tantalise the viewer's hand to brush over the canvas and feel the actual painting. The burnt sienna's and umber project a feeling of sand and fertile land, yet there is much detail and precision to his paintings, the compositions hence do not urge onto the 'careless'. Deliberate rigidity and pattern moderate the sensuality which can be best elaborated by the artist in his statement.
"I employ texture and light to communicate to the viewer, not only through the eye but by touch as well." The positions and titles of his work reveal a connection to his subject and artistic stream of thought. "Painted with assured delicacy the works have a lyrical quality allowing the decorative to blend with a profound figurative presence".
Syed A. Irfan's work expressed very definite traces of his miniature inheritance. Having viewed his work before, I could identify certain powerful subjects the artist is inclined to recreate. Exposing presence and dynamism on such a small scale is a very difficult thing to achieve yet this time it was surprising to see such a different array of paintings from the artist. The figures in his paintings shared none of the sharp colours and intricate detailing. These portraits merged a philosophy of breaking through the tight lines of miniature construction yet were based on linear formation. The wrinkles in an old man's forehead protrude forward as do the embellished jewels on a woman's shawl. The stiff folds of white cloth and contours of facial expressions immediately connect with the miniature style, however there is something special hidden beneath these figures. They all present a very original timeless moment from the artist's mind, whether references have been used or not. There is a certain realistic sheen observed in the cloth and hair to the cultural paintings as well.
Akber Khan's sculptures pervaded through the viewer's mind to draw various shapes and compositions, and the layered emulsified texture of the material moved beyond the feel of wood or marble. In fact the colours and flow of the polished sculptures recreated images of molten lava running through valleys. His mastered skill on body positions and flexibility is an apparent indication that his craftsmanship will reach many new heights in the future. This however goes for all the artists; one does not need to be fluent with well known names to realise the pure talent in this group.