‘After’ at Canvas
By: PEERZADA SALMAN
KARACHI: There’s something weirdly attractive about art that has shades of glumness about it. It’s a force that eggs on artists to investigate, to probe, to decode. They do not propagate hopelessness; the idea is to explore those aspects of life that can make life look like an uneasy exercise. Irfan Hasan is an artist that does that quite convincingly. His latest body of work, displayed in an exhibition titled
‘After’ at the Canvas Art Gallery inaugurated on Tuesday evening, is a tribute to the allure of art and at the same time signifies his inquisitiveness about those facets of existence that are not readily understandable.
‘Facets’ is the key word, because apparently the artworks are portraits of people (for example, ‘After Alexandre Cabanel’ – opaque watercolour on paper) that the viewer may or may not know. These are not portraits but, in Irfan Hasan’s own words, homage to European and Asian masters’ works. On surface, what he’s trying to say is that it is the technique that the viewer should try and concentrate more on rather than the subject matter. It’s a delightful bluff. The content, albeit wrapped in the charm of technique, is telling a different story, and quite an intriguing one at that. The characters have something in common: the sense of incompleteness. Irfan Hasan is hinting at something that’s gone amiss, or is amiss, and even ‘after’ all that, the magic is still there. Strange are the ways of the process of creativity — sometimes what’s unsaid gives the viewer aesthetic pleasure that’s at the very core of every artistic pursuit.
Why the air of glumness? The portraits (a set of inkjet prints on archival paper) in the first room of the gallery come across as snapshots from a film, an important part of a sequence. A second look will suggest it can’t be studied that way, since the pensive countenance is overpowering and demands that the viewer look at them individually. Once that’s done, the collective identity of these faces unravels like a mystery that should better remain unsolved.
The show will be open till April 17.