Retrospective exhibition: A journey through Lubna Agha’s life and work
KARACHI: If one wants a comprehensive glimpse into the work of late American-Pakistani artist Lubna Agha, a visit to the VM Art Gallery would be a promising revelation.
The entire work life of Lubna as an artist, graphic designer and social commentator (1949-2012) has been encapsulated in the exhibition, titled ‘A Path All My Own’. The show, which opened on Monday, is up for display till March 3.
From ‘The Wall’ exhibiting her blessed life as a winner of multiple awards and accolades and her reviews in the press to her canvases and graphics, Lubna’s journey appears to have followed its own tune. It is not the wholesome nature of her themes that is striking, but also the diverse variety of mediums from charcoal and pencil to acrylic, and pen and ink that tells us that the artist has indeed explored a variety of things.
Lubna’s artistic journey started in 1965 and one can actually notice her work – wall by wall at the gallery’s exhibition – progress through time. For example, her early year depicts violence against two women. Labelled ‘Brutality’, one can see resistance, struggle and blood in the picture. Likewise, on another canvas, what appears to be simple village life is portrayed, assuring one’s impression of someone who is quick in her mind, who notices both the good and the bad around her and is mindful of her circumstances as a young, alert mind. From being circumstantial, she then becomes introspective through physical imagery of faces and their reflections. The ride then appears to take a final, beautiful turn on ‘Islamic Motifs’, exhibiting spirituality on wood as part of the ‘Infinity and Oneness Series’.
Her husband, Yousuf Agha, an art critic, talked about the progression of her work as someone who has watched it revolutionise. “She was an intellectual who was moved by different circumstances,” he said. Speaking to The Express Tribune about her exhibitions in Pakistan, which she preferred to put up every six years, he said that Agha couldn’t make it in 2012 due to her illness. “She really wanted to come but couldn’t,” said Yousuf. “So, we decided to put up an exhibition as she had a lot of local admirers of her work here. She was always more at home in Pakistan.”
According to Yousuf, this particular exhibition of Lubna’s included a lot of exclusives that have never been exhibited in Pakistan. The wooden ‘Rehel’ (a stand used to hold a book) with colourful acrylic work on it, is something that was never exhibited. “The thing about Lubna’s paintings was that they were huge,” he said. He added that local artists contributed their collections of Lubna’s work for this retrospective exhibition. The paintings were not up for sale.