Where do we stand? Artist sees only a society of talking parrots
KARACHI: The Pakistani society is analogous to a rattutota [talking parrot] as people do not even have a basic understanding of their problems, believes artist Amir Raza. His works are on display at the Full Circle Gallery, portraying a history of the region known as the ‘Subcontinent’ and how it has deteriorated since Partition.
The show titled ‘Where Do We Stand?’ expresses the artist’s opinion that people are only capable of argument instead of rational thinking, be it a discussion on target killings or education in schools and colleges.
A historical contextualisation in Raza’s work can be seen in the miniature paintings of the Mughal era that lasted for many centuries. According to Raza, this was a prime period as ethics and religion became the unifying factors. “Akbar, particularly, blended all religions and from there we see how ethics were developed and seen as distinct from religion,” he explained. His depiction of this glorious time can be seen in golden birds and gold coins, which had become the symbol of pride among other Asian countries as well.
According to Raza, another ill of the society is imperialism that crushes the common people in favour of those who have lavish lifestyles. Its projection can be seen in one of the paintings titled ‘Boot’. The boot, according to Raza, symbolises authority and ownership. It is a cover behind which democratically elected representatives not only hide but also choose to operate.
Apart from the parrot that repeats itself in his paintings, Raza has also projected rifles and guns as a means to exemplify destruction. “When society doesn’t stress on understanding and thinking, it paves its way towards its own destruction,” he said. This can be seen in his images where guns surround the head of parrot and in others where the guns are aiming straight towards a parrot’s head. Nonetheless, the crux of Raza’s entire collection is a single message that knits all of his paintings together – our past was glorious while our present is worse and the solution only rests in getting rid of the rattutota mode.
The curator of the show, ScheherezadeJunejo, described the art show as a progression of historical events that reflects on the aptitude of Pakistanis today. “It is interesting to see the evolution of events with a mix of Mughal time and contemporary modern art,” she said.