B(h)ook opens at Canvas -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

B(h)ook opens at Canvas

By: Peerzada Salman

KARACHI: Not many art exhibitions drive home a point with relative ease. They cannot be faulted for it because even the simplest of art forms are not always uncomplicated. But the displays that convey their message in entirety without losing out on the aesthetics of art are always special. An exhibition of Munawar Ali Syed’s latest artworks, titled B(h)ook, curated by Amra Ali, opened at the Canvas Art Gallery on Tuesday. The standout quality of the show is the sincerity with which the idea, focusing on books, is presented coupled with some delightfully sculpted wood and metal pieces.

On one level the play on the Urdu word ‘bhook’ (hunger) visually alluding to the English word ‘book’ highlights the struggle between, in the artist’s words, body and soul.
However, on another level it is a stark reminder of the fact how knowledge and wisdom have taken a back seat and materialistic, in some cases pseudo-religious ritualistic, pursuits have eclipsed everything else.

The first section of the show is called ‘Forgotten Books’ (carving on wood). It is self-axiomatic, especially when the viewer sees two reptiles on top of a book s/he can well imagine the treatment meted out to the world of words.

Munawar Ali Syed takes the issue to a more tangible domain with ‘Kitabon Mein Jahan Aur Bhi Hain’. Here he becomes specific with his subject and touches on more at-hand issues such as war, violence and deception. In that regard one particular exhibit ‘Urdu Ki Last Kitab’ (copper effect, plastic beats, paint and wood) poignantly discusses the kind of auditory transformation (not necessarily good) that the Urdu language has gone through over the years.

‘Between the Lines’ (metal) intelligently hints at the inherent tussle between the apparent and the veiled, something that is increasingly becoming convoluted. It also gels well with the Walt Whitman line written on a gallery wall, “The words of my book nothing, the drift of it everything.”

The exhibition will continue until Dec 13.