Legacy of hunger or ‘Cup of Socrates’
By: Fawad Hasan
KARACHI: They say that artists of a certain era leave the imprints of history in their artworks. Along with mesmerising a huge audience it received, the ongoing Mad Karachi 3D II exhibition has certainly proved the adage to be true. The works of 21 artists are on display in the much-awaited show – which was previously organised in 2011 – at the Artchowk Gallery.
Curated by Munawar Ali Syed, the show seems to have the ability required to spellbind art-lovers. On entering the gallery, one can but feel the magnanimity of the artworks being exhibited, and take in the vividness of meanings the pieces are imbibed with.
The first glance captures the art piece by Abdullah Qamer titled ‘Cup of Socrates’. A bowl like sculptor, it is made of metal cylinders and ball bearings. “The cylinders manifest here the progress which was made possible by the ideas of Socrates, the Greek philosopher, who laid his life for his ideology,” said Qamer, a graduate of Karachi University Visual Studies Department.
Another piece created by Qamer is aptly titled as ‘Legacy’, a sculptor again made of Iron imitating a crow’s head. “It represents the first murder which took place on Earth as a result of a fight between two of Adam’s sons. The crow was thus sent to teach how the body must be buried. Murder, and surreptitious burial have remained, so far, our legacy, the hallmark of mankind!” explains Qamer, ruefully.
Atrocities of Pakistan’s society are also addressed in the exhibition as Nabeel Majeed Sheikh, a graduate of Karachi School of Art, participated in the show with his work ‘Wadera’, a black noose made with the help of flower work reflecting the elitist and feudalist elements of the society. “The flower work actually is done to emphasis on the sweet-yet-malicious tactics of elitists of our society who make the law, force people to conform with it, whereas freely violating it,” remarks Sheikh.
Hamida Akhtar’s work may provoke the fundamentalists of our society and those who still want to preserve the patriarchal values here. A wood carving, it shows the body of a woman with her bosoms visible, her head cut off from her body, idle on another side. Perhaps, Akhtar tries to reflect how woman’s body is considered separate from her self; the body and its erotic features that are consumed, devoured by the male-chauvinistic society of ours.
The curator, Munawar Ali Syed, who is also a participant, has a whole philosophy to tell in his awe-inspiring work. ‘Bhook’ manifests how books today are used to assuage ‘hunger’. The outer part of the artwork shows a part of an assault rifle that, in Syed’s words, encapsulates the environment of our varsities that are now occupied by political goons and gangsters. “The spoon inside, and the golden words inscribed in the book actually mean the spoon-feeding of a certain set of rules, philosophy being taught in our schools as part of the indoctrination process,” elaborates Syed who is a graduate of National College of Arts and currently teaching at Indus Valley School of Arts and Visual Studies-KU.
What today scholars and intelligentsia fail to criticise has been brought into light for the public by artists who are deemed, rightfully so, the most sensitive segment of a society in the on-going Mad 3D Karachi II.
The show will run until January 25.