The talent shows her work in an exhibition at Clifton Art Gallery.

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

The distinguished sculptor and ceramist Talat Dabeer captures a strong mood and feeling through her sculpture that includes standing and seated figures as well as a number of incredibly intricate drawings. Talat, who for several years had been Associate Professor Fine Arts at the National College of Art, Lahore, is now retired from teaching and focused on her work in ceramics. She has in her home a spacious studio where she uses the medium of terra cotta to create the skill and ease of long practice, and the uncluttered figures that are recognisably her signature work. Impressive examples of her work are seen in diverse settings, such as the work seen at the Lahore Airport International lounge, where a wall-based mural consisting of six panels covers an area of 8 feet by 28 feet.

One had seen the artist’s national award-winning jharokas or balconies previously in exhibition and marvelled at the depth of the work with its myriad geometric designs, all worked to scale and with numerous patterns and references to Islamic architecture and tradition.

The artist, who was born in Lahore, is a graduate of the National College of Arts, majoring in sculpture in 1969. She was one of the first batches of students taught by at that time, recently graduated artist Saeed Akhtar, who inaugurated her exhibition as the Chief Guest, held at the Clifton Art Gallery.

Entering the gallery early to view the exhibition, one met a number of artists who were great admirers of her work. From Islamabad, the famous couple Mansur Rahi and Hajra was present, along with the wives of Saeed Akhtar and Adil Salahuddin, all intent on viewing the work in depth, and all were moved by the intricacy of the artist’s pieces and the delicacy of the various aspects of each fine sculpture.

Talat is one of the country’s earliest artist’s of the third dimension. After her graduation from NCA, she went on to exhibit her work in a number of national and international events of importance and earned awards that include the First Prize in the National Art Biennale in 1988, and a Gold Medal awarded by the Pakistan National Council of the Arts in 1994. Visitor’s to the artist’s home may be surprised to learn from the cups and shields on display that in her youth Talat was Pakistan’s top athlete and for 10 years, the National Badminton Champion, but she seldom mentions the years of sports fame.

Talat gave up sports and focused on teaching sculpture at NCA, and the tall slim uncluttered figures she produces are recognisably her signature work. For many years married to national award-winning ceramist, Dubeer Ahmed, Dubeer summed up the work of his wife as a combination of skill, art, science and craft.

The couple laughingly spoke of how Talat is often inspired to work at her drawings in the early hours, and how she tries to avoid waking Dubeer as she starts her day’s work.

Included in the show are an exquisite collection of drawings, and in her figurative sculpture, the artist brings the same miniature detail to her work that must be studied at length. Constantly reviewing her work, Talat fills innumerable text books with sketches, notes and ideas. Often, the drawings are instrumental in the formation of her subject which is a lengthy process requiring several firings.

Subtle areas of glazing give diversity to the surfaces of the work after many hours in the kiln before assembling the pieces on wooden surfaces.

Always a statement of the world around her, the work of Talat Dubeer initiates a dialogue with the viewer that is a haunting experience. Through the years, her work has been included in private collections world wide.

Though married to the distinguished sculptor Dubeer, Talat retains her individual, singular style. Viewing the artist’s work in exhibition, one regrets the lack of a permanent museum of art for future generations to study her pieces. •