No choice but to hear you opens at Canvas
By: Peerzada Salman
KARACHI: The frequently quoted soliloquy ‘To be or not to be’ from William Shakespeare’s masterpiece Hamlet has this profound line about death, “tis a consummation devoutly to be wished”.
And it is the ‘undiscovered land from whose bourn no traveller returns’. In the history of mankind, death has been the subject of many artists, writers and poets’ works. Understandably so, because it is the inescapable aspect of the subject that creative individuals have always found intriguing.
Adeela Suleman is an internationally known Pakistani artist. An exhibition of her new body of work titled ‘I had no choice but to hear you’, which opened at the Canvas art gallery on Tuesday, is interesting on two counts: its subject (death, forlornness, unsaid feelings) and the hard work with which she’s managed to put together installations that are more than noteworthy.
It is not undemanding to appreciate Ms Suleman’s work. The size of the artworks on display is hard to miss which is why the motifs can initially take a back seat. It takes time to get the hang of what she’s trying to convey.
But then certain elements make things a tad simple: stretchers (medical device for taking patients from one place to another), birds and the titles of her exhibits. The last one in particular is a give-away of sorts. For example, ‘Falling Down’ (steel, iron) is a roundabout way of saying the opposite. It is the upward flight that the artist is referring to; and that too in the spiritual sense.
The one striking piece is called ‘Fly My Pretties’ (steel, iron, bulb). The artwork is aesthetically pleasing but also has a certain air of cheerlessness about it. While the birds are being urged to fly, their inertness is distressing.
And that’s what Ms Suleman has succeeded in doing to a great extent — creating more than one effect through ostensibly a single big artwork. The exhibition will continue till Oct 18.