Dreams of Stones opens at Art Chowk
KARACHI: Architecture, they say, is an art form. This is the reason why many artists, painters and sculptors in history chose, and are still doing so, buildings as their motif or leitmotif, particularly if the buildings are made of stone. Man and stone, for some reason, have had an inexplicably symbiotic relationship. In this context, an exhibition of pen-and-ink work by French artist Henri Souffay titled ‘Reves de pierres: Dreams of Stones’, which opened at the Art Chowk Gallery on Wednesday, is an interesting study of the aforementioned observation. The most noticeable feature of the exhibits on display, even in the rather conceptual ‘Deep Inside’ series (pen and ink on paper), is an element of softness in the air and eerie quietude. Perhaps it is indicative of the artist’s own disposition.
However, the show begins, that is the initial 10 pieces, on a rather unusual note — unusual in the sense that they are a little different from the rest of the 20-odd drawings. The first exhibit, ‘The River’ (pen and ink on paper), provides a fair idea of Souffay’s firm, surgeon-like grasp on the pen. The precision, despite the conceptual theme, is worth appreciating for itself. The content: well, it transports you back in time that is a little foreign for local viewers. ‘Deep Inside I, II, III’ emits an uneasy vibe primarily because of the chains that hang off the walls. The most visually striking example in this series is ‘The Anchor’. Not the building but the moon, the stars (smaller moons) seen from the open space and the anchor which dangles from the top makes the drawing partly surreal, partly real. And, again, the precision of Souffay’s pen-and-ink control is pleasantly surprising.
Then comes the sudden transformation where the viewer sees Mohatta Palace (pen and ink on paper), jali (pen and ink with soft
pastels on paper), filigrees, mundra and marble flowers (pen and ink on paper) — readily identifiable and easy to get. However, Souffay does not indulge in detail, mind you. He creates an effect. Even here though, exhibits like ‘Lost in Time, Lost in Space’ (pen and ink with soft pastels on paper) symbolise, albeit subtly, the need for preserving heritage.
According to the invite to the show, ‘Henri Souffay came to Pakistan for the woman he loves and fell in love with the land’.
Looking at the exhibition, which will run till Feb 28, there is hardly any evidence to doubt that.