Seeing and Being Seen

  • 03 Feb - 09 Feb, 2018
  • Marjorie Husain
  • Art

Visiting the Canvas Gallery to view the work of four outstanding young artists, one discovered the gallery director, Samira Raja, preparing to leave at the crack of dawn for London where an exhibition of Mohammad Ali Talpur titled Sight Specific will take place at the Austin-Desmond Fine Art Gallery. It is in collaboration with Canvas Gallery, Karachi which was scheduled to take place on 26-28 January, with a talk by Sonia Datta, writer, broadcaster and former curator of the South Asian Art Museum. Also on 26 January, an exhibition of eight artists from Pakistan in collaboration with the Canvas Gallery, will take place at the Grosvenor Gallery. The exhibition titled Multiple Narratives features the work of Imran Muddasar, Mahbub Jokhio, Muzzumil Ruheel, Noor Ali Chagani, Sajjad Nawaz, Salman Toor, Wardha Shabbir and Yasser Vayani.

In Karachi, the exhibition featured the work of artists Ehsan Memon, Hamid Ali Hanbhi, Arslan Farooqi and Ahsan Javaid – four young and enormously talented artists who combined their work to make an exciting and unusual visual experience. Samira Raja explained that she had seen their work some years ago when visiting National College of Arts (NCA), and was so impressed, she arranged to show their work together annually at the gallery in a four-artist group exhibition. It was a stimulating experience of unusual talents and points of view.

The work of Hamid Ali Hanbhi on show, graphite on archival paper and was exquisite. Hanbhi took his BFA from the NCA with distinction in 2015. His work has been included in numerous group exhibitions throughout Pakistan and in Venice. In exhibition, the artist’s five graphite on archival paper series titled Divorce, was mesmerising. They are incredible artworks that leave one wanting to view more of his work. “Working with found images and popular lyrics, from local movies, I often connect with social events, which provide a departure point for my work. My work deals with the re-narration of those ideas,” shares the artist.

Ahsan Javaid’s vibrant and expressive series of fabric in acrylic box artworks uses colour and formation that would light any room. One particularly enjoys Taaron Bhari Raat, which shows brilliant stars appearing from a dark blue sky. One was happily reminded of Vincent’s Starry, Starry Night though Javaid’s work is completely original. “My practice deals with the ideas of originality, representation and reality. These are all relative terms and could not be assumed to form a universal understanding…” he says.

One spent considerable time gazing on the video animation work of Arslan Farooqi, beginning with the Wak Wak Tree.

It begins with a tree in winter, with no leaves and an overcast sky. Then comes spring and leaves appear on the branches of the tree along with pods. As the weather progresses, from each pod a miniature female figure appears, and hangs from the pod, until the weather changes and gradually, all the figures fall and lie on the ground. The leaves are gone and the tree is bare, and the fallen figures also disappear. It was a truly beautiful experience.

Farooqi also showed an interesting sculpture Flying Elephant, created with silicon and fibreglass. It is a fascinating work of art that could hold many meanings, and leaves one wondering, ‘Has the elephant been felled by the bird?’ Other absorbing video works by Farooqi were titled Cosmic Consciousness and The Faithful of Mazdak. “Nothing in this universe is certain until someone makes a measurement, which revolves around the state of one’s life. If one can’t determine another being’s existence, then how can one be certain of their own existence…” he remarks.

Guests attending the exhibition were also amazed by the work of Ehsan Memon, who had used oil on fibreglass, oil on canvas and graphite on paper for the Suff series. The artist had created what appeared to be a ‘woven straw’ image, and other surfaces with his brush. All these artists have been showing their work to gain appreciation since student days. It was exciting to view all these new works by the young NCA graduates, each remarkable in his own way and one will be seeing and hearing more of these artists.

“My recent body of work is a new project… I chose these works on the basis of realistic abstraction which is a part of my work. It is my way of exploring visual language,” he says.

Altogether it was indeed a truly remarkable art exhibition.