• 31 Mar - 06 Apr, 2018
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Art

“…Working on a comeback exhibition was not really an easy task for me. I took refuge in meditation, music and dance…Dance is the powerful impulse or rhythmic movement of the body expressing an idea or emotion releasing energy, and simply taking delight in the movement itself.

Interactive Art of Dance origins are found through ancient civilizations and are the most complex form of language and communication…” Dr Syed Ali Wasif

A Consultant Psychiatrist at Dr Ziauddin Hospital, Karachi, Dr Syed Ali Wasif is also a practicing artist, whose first exhibition was held in Lahore in 1990. He went on to show his exhibition in Islamabad, and in the years 1991 and 1992, he was honored with the Sadequain award in Karachi.

A self taught artist, his work won the approval of Sadequain

who took an interest in his work, and talked with him about art and the artists.

The artist’s work has been strongly influenced by his profession. Exhibitions titled: `Anatomy of Torture’, ‘Torture Survivors,’ and ‘Stress’ shown at the Sadequain Gallery that were held during Mental Health awareness week, made a strong impact on public awareness, and reviews of his work were found in leading publications where prominent art critics of those years wrote their appreciation towards his work.

Exhibitions of Dr Wasif’s work followed in 2001 and a documentary film titled: “Diary of a Psychiatrist” was shown in September 2004 during the 10th convention of Pakistan India Forum for Peace and Democracy in Lahore.

In Karachi Dr Wasif’s solo exhibitions were shown in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2016; and he was a regular visitor to art exhibitions, many of which he reviewed.

In compiling his latest work, the artist explained he took refuge in meditation, music and dance. “Dance is the most powerful impulse or rhythmic movement of the body expressing an idea or emotion, releasing energy and simply taking delight in the movement itself.”

Explaining the symbols in his work, Wasif’s full moon is a “feminine symbol which is a universal representation of the rhythm of time as it embodies its cycle... rivers, ponds and oceans represent aspects of spiritual life and humanity. Lotus flowers are symbolic of struggle and resilience…

The paintings shown at the Full Circle Gallery are the result of two years of work. Here, the artist pays homage to the history and traditions of the classic Kathak dance, and the exponents who spent their lives in ancients times traveling and communicating the epic stories of ancient times through the dance.

Quoting Rumi in an introductory brochure, Dr Wasif writes:

“Dance when you’re broken open. Dance if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you are perfectly free.

Working with oil on canvas, Dr Wasif creates brightly coloured settings for his dancers, there are trees laden with orange leaves, a musician sits under a tree of green leaves, playing his flute while animals sit peacefully, seemingly enjoying the music.

‘Chamba Kitney Dour’ is the title of a paintings depicting a

dancer, gracefully dressed and decorated, showing a classic pose. ’Cheen Laa Maraa Kee Bindya’ has the graceful dancer

posing in beautifully decorated costume, flowers and jewellery.

The mood changes with: ‘Dancing faces of Eve’ with multiple movements creating shades and shadows.

“So let’s dance with the rhythm of your heart to make your soul and spirit free of the agony of love, hate and all negative emotions, to exhale and inhale free breath of real rejoicing and tranquility.”

Dr Wasif’s painting’s vary in mood from the tranquil scene of the dancer posing by a lake, and the homage to Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’, with the dancer accompanied by a musician while the stars glow from the skies. In some of the artist’s backgrounds, one discovers an echo of classic miniature paintings that created a mood with landscape. His vibrant colouration brings energy to the scenes, encompassing the effects of nature. With no formal art training, he paints intuitively creating movement with vibrant colour in his work with layers of paint and adventurous texture creating bold, and expressive statements. Wasif uses his understanding of colour theory to produce paintings of dynamic energy. •