Bizarre and mundane as it may sound, the exhibition is a step forward towards a more liberal art and fashion world in an otherwise not-so-liberal society

As I descended into the basement of Studio Seven Gallery, little did I know that I would be in to witness the most unconventional, non-commercial photographic exhibition, conceptualised by one of the most prominent stylists of Pakistan’s fashion industry, Ehtesham Ansari.

As I set my foot firmly on the floor, I came across the statement by Ehtesham, hung at the very end of the staircase, explaining what made him come up with such a bold idea for an exhibition that showcased a total of 11 photographs, all black and white, featuring the bigwigs of our entertainment and fashion industry with one thing in common; they were all photographed in the bathroom.

Ehtesham has been responsible for styling most celebrities on Coke Studio in its most recent seasons. Answering the question about the origin of the idea, he says, “I guess boredom that is associated with commercialism of fashion shoots. Fed up of cup cake conversations and pretentious attitude, I felt the need to create something completely non-commercial and this exhibition is what I had gone through in my thinking process to achieve the same.”

There is an image that features a man sitting on a toilet seat, wearing a crown. What I gathered from this very picture is that a man is the king of his thoughts in this very personal space that belongs only to him, not to be disturbed by the influences of the outer world. This and other thoughts were portrayed very tastefully in a stylised manner.

No matter how bold and creative Ehtesham’s thinking pattern is, keeping in view the prevailing mindset, did he ever take into account the risks involved as to how the society would perceive it?

“Expressing yourself in a right manner is not risky at all. Yes, there was some restlessness, but in a good way,” says the quirky artist, adding, “expression executed well cannot go wrong. Thanks to all the experience and exposure I have gained in this industry, I have an idea that if anything is done tastefully, it will get noticed. But there are some obligations, like one has to do [their] homework well and not be disrespectful or offensive in communicating the thought process.”

The exhibited pictures show prominent celebrities like Sanam Saeed, Zhalay Sarhadi, Iman Ali, Zoe Viccaji, Hareem Farooq, Ayesha Toor, Zara Abid, Rizwan Ali Jaffery, Waleed Siddique, Maya Talpur and Kamran Ahmed, all photographed by Bilal Khan, Syed Faryab and Danish Ansari.

So, what is next on Ehtesham’s plate? “Well, there are certain things in the pipeline and to be materialised, some soon-to-be-released music videos and a couple of commercials.”

Right now Ehtesham is basking in the success that his first-ever show brings his way and also motivates him to do his next show. From our side too, it’s a thumbs up!