A walk through Karachi
By: NADEEM ZUBERI
A solo exhibition of cityscape paintings by Hanif Shahzad at Chawkandi Art Gallery, Karachi gives visitors the feeling of being in the Karachi city. It is just like a walk through Karachi along the busy streets painted in hues of vivid blue, yellow, green and pink.
He engages emphatically with the cityscape of the biggest city of the country. After a four years gap his latest paintings in oil on canvas grip the viewers, which is rare as we are all city dwellers and almost everybody have seen the city areas portrayed in the painting. I feel it is this lively recollection of the time and events in his paintings that everyone has experienced in their life time make his artworks more appealing and exciting. The viewers are responsive towards his paintings as they feel personal involvement in the ambience of the city.
People sense positive vibes in his paintings as they go through the familiar environment and for some it brings a memory or wish in the mind as a source of pleasure or an ambition they once had. All of the paintings have panoramic view of the place depicted. Hanif has captured the true spirit of Karachi and his paintings are realistic impressions of the old and historical buildings as well as common streets and corner markets with titles “View from Jheel Park P.E.C.H.S”, “The Arch”, “Old Window”.
He also represents some of the landmarks of the old city like Empress Market, Mohatta Palace, Kharadar Street, Denso Hall, Fresco Chowk, St.Joseph’s School and Burns Road. The paintings are a vivid representation of the various facets of life in Karachi. A painting titled, “Night view from Saddar” shows graffiti apart from other activities going on at the place. The hustle and bustle of the city can be seen in every market painting.
His uniqueness is in his painting selection as he mainly focuses on certain areas of the city not the buildings as a whole, which also helpful to add charm in his paintings. As realistic work needs keen observation selecting a specific area help creating a more realistic and ideal painting that is close to reality.
Whether day or night well defined lines blended with realistic situations, balanced by light and shadows depict an overwhelming energy in his paintings. His work is in a broad range of colours and tones. Various ranges of hues from ochre to creamy pale yellows, white and deep blues, reds and grey, blacks and greens are used in each painting to enhance and give it more significance and description.
The images he creates are both magical and cold. The vegetation and old city buildings portray the life of people going on as years passing by without any change in their environment and lifestyle. He paints very clearly the night scenes of various places in old city titled “Night View from Saddar”, “Empress Market at night”, “Dusty Night”, “Burns Road at night”, “Mohatta Palace moon light”, “Saddar at night”.
His work gives the sight of the place as well as an introduction to our heritage. The street scenes which are dominating his canvases have clusters of houses and markets brimming with activities the shops and houses without plaster walls, vender’s carts full of small items, electrical wires and cables swinging in the air, rickshaw, bus, bike and cars on the dusty roads. These all added the beauty to the painting’s ambience.