People Walking in Space: ‘What is weird is contemporary’
KARACHI: “Young, aspiring, and inspiring!” is what Shamim Akhter has to say about the three upcoming contemporary artists who are currently displaying their work at Chawkandi Art. Hussain Chandio, Zeeshan Memon, and Ali Karimi, opened their exhibition on July 10. Akhter, who is the editor of the Pakistan Art Review and an art critic, is enthused by the work, saying that these artists address things that are ignored in everyday life.
Stepping into the gallery, the viewer’s eyes are drawn into the plethora of artwork that is on display. The gallery is packed with artists, art students, critics, and collectors who carefully take in the work and converse with the artists as they sip on coffee.
Zohra Hussain, who is the curator at Chawkandi Art is all smiles when she talks about these rising artists. “I wanted to bring together this enthusiastic group and give them a chance. They all hail from interior Sindh and are all full of fresh ideas,” said Hussain who started Chawkandi Art 27 years ago.
Chandio’s series of work, titled ‘People Walking in Space’ is a refreshing rendition of a bird’s eye view. The unique perspective employed by Chandio has a gaggle of art students from the National City School of Art in Karachi. Chandio is interested in movement as well as unusual angles, and his work shows people dancing, walking, and playing games.
He captures the flurry of movement expertly. Chandio, 34, completed his studies from Sindh University, and is a lecturer of fine arts at Mehran University. Chandio mentions Warren Keating, an American artist, whose work is also based on aerial view as an inspiration.
Zeeshan Memon, 29, teaches at the Fakhta School of Arts in Karachi. His work comments on Pakistani films from the late 1980s. In the series of paintings displayed at the exhibit, he depicts typical scenes and gestures from Punjabi movies. A painting of a woman in a lime green kurta, sitting in typical Punjabi fashion is one that stands out in particular. He cites Maula Jutt as a personal favorite and one painting even features Sultan Rahi pulling a Kalashnikov away from a turbaned man. “I feel like things that happened in the films are happening everyday now. Seeing a man with a gun belted to his waist is commonplace,” Memon says pointing towards his painting. Maria Javed, who is applying to the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture this August, is studying under Memon. “Zeeshan is promoting traditional Punjabi films through his paintings,” she said.
Ali Karimi, 30, is a rising senior majoring in miniature painting at the National College of Arts. He is displaying works in graphite, which has been his choice of medium for the last 10 years. Karimi plays with the idea of shadow, self, and the shadow-self, an idea inspired by the eminent psychologist Carl Jung. The concept of duality is vehemently present in all his work, in his choice of color, his experimentation with negative space, and in the subject matter itself.
“I haven’t seen anything like this, this is very innovative!” admits Kinza Nafis who is also a prospective student at Indus.
“This is weird,” says 12-year-old Hana. “That girl looks like Kirsten Stewart,” she adds, pointing at one of Karimi’s miniature looking a bit disconcerted. Akhter pats her granddaughter’s head, “what is weird is contemporary,” she states simply.