Paanchwan Period opens at Koel
KARACHI: An exhibition of artist Fahim Rao’s sculptures titled ‘Paanchwan Period’ opened at the Koel art gallery on Thursday.
It has to be said that all of the exhibits on view speak volumes for the artist’s ability of putting to good use, in Wordsworth’s words, ‘the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings recollected in tranquillity’. Here’s why. There is a piece in the show called ‘Standing Murgha’ (fibre glass). The figure of a person in a rooster position stands apart from the rest of the artworks in the exhibition. It’s a kind of classroom punishment in which a student is asked to assume a position that resembles that of a murgha or rooster. (The one who is punished squats, pushes his arms between his knees and holds his ears with his hands for as long as the punisher wants). Rao recreates the scene with uncanny artistic verisimilitude. While doing so, he doesn’t ignore the aesthete in him. The exhibit is noteworthy not just because of the context it’s placed in but also because of the refined manner in which it’s been executed. An edition of 25 standing murghas is available in the exhibition as well.
So what is the paanchwan period? Rao says, “When I was a student I observed that this murgha penalty usually came in the fifth period. The punishment was handed out to those who tdidn’t adhere to class decorum or weren’t disciplined. Now when I see people disobeying traffic rules and indulging in all kinds of wrongdoings, I wonder when ‘their’ fifth period will come.”
The ‘Stress’ series (metal and electric powder coating) is related to the main theme in the sense that it talks about the repetitiveness that one faces in life, including the different forms of chastisement. In ‘Stress’ the form, in this writer’s view, overshadows the content. The finesse in the nine exhibits holds the viewer’s attention. While the subject of the series can be construed multifariously, the technique cannot.
The exhibition will be open till April 14.