Artist-in-residency programme: Sanat’s first exhibition takes viewers deeper into artists’ lives
KARACHI: Memories affect emerging artist Arsalan Nasir the most. You could see this in his artworks, in which a woman is seated with her arms wrapped around her belly. If you pick up the frame to take a closer look, it illuminates and shows a baby in the woman’s lap. When you keep it back, the baby disappears and the woman is again left alone.
Nasir’s works seem to focus on memories and how they fade. With the interactive frame, he wants to show that an effort has to be made to retain our memories. The creator of this illusionary sculpture and six other artists were part of ‘Incubator’, the first artist-in-residency programme of Sanat Initiative, a new art gallery that opened in Clifton on Friday evening.
To bring out these works of art, the artists spent nearly a month at an apartment, pointed out curator Muhammad Zeeshan. Our art community is deprived of a culture of discussing art practices, and the residency’s purpose was to provide a platform for that, he explained.
Ghulam Muhammad ‘Manfi Wa Masbat’
Zahrah Asim from the National College of Arts, Lahore, expressed her fear of confined spaces through her work. Using oil on board, she painted detailed images of confined spaces of a house. “In my childhood, I lived in a confined space,” she said. “It was scary and overwhelming. I felt that the showcase beside my bed would fall over me.” Asim’s paintings narrate her fear perfectly as she paints a bed, over which a showcase looms like a scary monster.
Kiran Saleem’s artworks also require a closer inspection for meaning. At first glance, it is merely a paper pasted on a wooden frame with white tape.
But a closer scrutiny leaves the viewer amazed as it is a super-realistic painting of the paper pasted on a wooden frame. “My message is that a closer look is necessary before passing on judgement,” said Saleem. “All that appears on the surface is not reality.”
Her illusionary sculpture of a person’s feet also gained approving nods from the visitors. “I love the feet,” said a visitor, Ali Bhanani. “They look so real.”
Abid Aslam ‘Conversation (series)’
Meanwhile, painful memories echo in Sajid Khan’s works. He hails from Swat and uses graphite on wasli paper to express what a war-torn territory’s inhabitant would feel like. His works are devoid of colour. Obscure images of clouds in the sky sometimes take the form of smoke and evoke the familiar image of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In contrast, Rohail Ghouri, who hails from a village in Sindh, focuses on the stark contrast between his experiences in his hometown and the urban atmosphere of Karachi. Using pen and gouache on paper with touches of monotone pastel colours, he uses tiny sketched lines to signify the transition from rural to urban life. “The lines show travel and movement,” he explained.
Artist Abid Aslam makes tiny eyelets with graphite on wasli paper and frames them in tiny rings to show the great influence of Parisian impressionism. His collection is a series of 10 miniature portraits, with each frame the size of 10 millimetres in diameter. Did he use a magnifying glass to draw these miniscule images? Aslam replied: “I drew them all with my naked eye.”
Full Circle Gallery manager Kashif Humayun was also present at the opening. “Each artist has his or her unique technique,” he said. “It is an engaging exercise.”
The Sanat Initiative aims to provide a platform for emerging artists in Pakistan and aspires to help connect them with the larger art-world, through residency and other programmes of the like. The exhibition, ‘Incubator’, will be on display till July 24.