The smog of tradition and history
KARACHI: Memory keeps tradition alive. It is the process of forgetting, conscious or unwitting, that gradually hollows out tradition and makes history a blurred reality. Artists know the significance of memory. That is why the perceptive among them attach great importance to observation and experience — the former provides a link to tradition and the latter connects the artists to it. Nazia Ejaz’s paintings on display at the Canvas Art Gallery are a fine example of how observation and experience work to see the seemingly conventional aspects of life anew.
There are two protagonists of the show: rickshaws and cityscape. Both, of course, are interrelated. But that’s not how the artist has shown them. She has set them apart as if they are two separate realities. There’s a reason for it.
Rickshaws symbolise an urban culture that’s not urbane. This means, they negate the elitism associated with city life. The gaudiness, the loudness and the exuberance associated with them speak of a tradition that’s distinctive, and in a certain case meaningful. The colourful swirls that accompany the rickshaws signify both the smog they emit and the myriad of ideas the viewer can correlate with them. The fact that the city that Nazia Ejaz raves about is Lahore makes the drift in/of her work all the more easy to acknowledge. There’s aesthetics in her (oil-on-linen, oil-on-canvas, synthetic polymer paint-on-canvas) paintings that give away her fondness for the city.
Now the cityscapes Nazia Ejaz has drawn are something that requires intellectual probing. They look both contemporary and historical.
It’s the manner in which the artist has imparted ‘character’ or ‘personality’ to them (and to the rickshaws) that compels the viewer to analyse, not just marvel at, the artworks as a readily understandable subject as well as a topic for which the knowledge of history is a prerequisite.
The exhibition will continue till Jan 16.