Art from the depths of the heart
Karachi: For many, art is just a money minting exercise which involves the artists conjuring up situations and transposing them on to the canvas.
However, there are those for whom art is a reflection of their innermost feelings; prompted by the gale of the weaker moments in life when one capitulates to temptations and urges, or when one is made a victim of the machinations of law enforcers, or the miscarriage of justice.
Such an exhibition, portraying such situations, is currently running at the Alliance Francais, Karachi, featuring works by inmates of the Central Jail, Karachi. It is not just art for art’s sake but is a reflection of the vagaries of fate and circumstance, and the bludgeoning of providence.
One of these works by Fazal Rahim, which may well be a prize-winning one, is titled ‘Justice’ and depicts a man in a prisoner’s outfit in a cage, with folded hands and a forlorn expression, as if begging for justice.
Obviously, this artist is either a victim of the miscarriage of justice or the machinations of investigators who may just be vindictive on account of a grudge they harbour against him or because he could not come up to their monetary expectations and grease their palms fully.
It is not just a painting but a profound, sad commentary on the state of our society where the common folk do not seem to matter, despite being as human as those with power and pelf.
Another one that could inspire awe is ‘Tree’ by Faraz Ahmed, depicting a leafless tree with a sturdy trunk and bare branches against the backdrop of a scarlet sky, which seems as if on fire. This could be equated with the fire of the vagaries of fate burning in his heart, the leafless state of the tree being connotative of how he considers his life worthless and without purpose – a state where life is not nature’s biggest gift to mankind but a noose around the neck. The work strikes the viewer as beaming a profound message from the innermost depths of the painter’s heart.
However, all themes are not that glum. For instance, there is one depicting Baloch culture with a stalwart, sturdy turbaned Baloch man playing on a stringed instrument.
The most redeeming feature of the exhibition is that, unlike the art galleries rapidly sprouting across town that purvey stuff that could by all accounts be considered absurd – random lines and blotches supposed to denote men and women, stuff that could any day be considered comic – all in the name of modern art and that too for six-figure amounts, the highest priced painting at this exhibition is to the tune of Rs 18,000, with most ranging between Rs 4,000 and Rs 5,000. The exhibition runs up until April 26.