The creative lens: Artist finds beauty in the hardships of Thar women
KARACHI: Taking inspiration from the hardworking women of Thar, artist Salman Ahmed from Mirpurkhas tries to show the concealed beauty of the neglected desert.
“There is a certain beauty in the hard life led by the people of Thar,” said Ahmed, at the launch of his group show at Grandeur art gallery. “The women of that region are far stronger than men. Even their facial lines and expressions reveal the hard life.”
Apart from Ahmed, the works of five other artists are on display at the gallery till September 17. However, the concept and techniques used by each artist is unique.
Ahmed has used oil colours to show the concealed beauty of Thar life, which is often known for its neglected state. In his paintings, he has used symmetrical and linear painting techniques to reveal both the indoor and outdoor life of women in Thar. Women walking outside with pitchers perched on their heads and women indulged in household work, Ahmed has used systemised strokes and lines to show a life that is booming with colours.
Talking about the characteristic armful of bangles worn by the women, Ahmed said that the length at which these bangles are worn indicate the marital status of the woman. If the bangles are worn on the arms, then that woman is single. When it’s worn all the way to the upper arms that means she’s married, he explained.
“We only know Thar from what the media chooses to show us,” he said. “It’s not as dry a life as shown; Thar has its own hidden colours. I hope that people will someday listen to their story.”
Another artist who has also kept women as the central focus in his works is Ja Nisar Ali. His work has taken inspiration from the Kalash Tribe in Chitral. Showing women in colourful, patterned attires, elaborate earrings and surreal expressions, the canvases are really about bringing the colours of the valley on canvas. A noticeable feature of the women in Ali’s paintings was the doe-eyed nature of their eyes. Eyes bright open, shining with their inner glow, it seems as if an entire ocean reside wtihin them.
Similar to Ali’s theme of nature, Sadia Arif has made use of apparent abstract splashes of colours that culminate into a definite shape when looked from another angle. Flowers, trees standing tall in a forest landscape; her work is abstraction at its best. Different from all other artists from the very nature of medium, Syed Zainul Abedin’s wooden sculptures stood out. According to the artist, no external treatments have been given to the wood apart from heating and roasting, to bring out the natural colour and texture.
“It’s Kufic art being expressed in wood craft,” explained Zain. Wooden craft in 3D blocks, in linear or geometrical shapes or in a labyrinth, it’s a search for spirituality and quest for the Divine Truth. “The essence of the concept is that no matter which point you take, you will end up to the focal truth of human existence,” he said.