Artist provides counter-narrative to conflicts via elephants
KARACHI Elephant and fantasy are not a combination that one comes across very often. It is certainly not something that would make sense on the surface. However, artist Kausar Ali, who claims to be working with this symbol for the last six years, has given a lot more meaning to it by using it as a counter-narrative to the conflicts that exist around us.
Elephants, known for their friendly and empathetic nature, have been adopted as an idea by Ali. “The animal is a costume of positivity and a symbol of peace,” he says. The artist has used the animal as a means of expressing a counter-narrative to the prevailing conflicts and differences around the world. The exhibition, titled ‘Elephantacy’, is on display at Artscene Galleries. The work is based on water colours and gouache on wasli. It is clear, full of expressions and simple. Colours have also been experimented with. Apart from its characteristic colour, the elephants are blue and red.
So, why elephants? The artist responds to this query by explaining that since every language has characters, elephants are his medium of self-expression. Ali’s choice of animal in his paintings is playful and empathetic. Smiling their natural smile with their trunks tucked in or gazing lovingly at their young ones, it is hard to miss the connection between humans and animals – that is, if humans are to behave in their real essence.
Then, there are images that seem like mirror images of one another. A man resting his head on the animal’s trunk or a young man sitting in front of the elephants who appears to be reading to it – it seems as if the artist has tried to draw in as many similarities as he could find between the animal and the human so much so that they appear to be a reflection of each other. According to him, in Pukhtun culture, elephants are feared and known to be dangerous creatures. “It is for this reason [that] I have wanted to show that elephants and humans have the same qualities of friendliness and peace,” he says.
World-renowned floral artist’s tricks of the trade enthrall Karachi audience The artist, who hails from Malakand and has exhibited his work both locally and internationally, says that his strength lies in miniature. One can find similar depiction of elephant miniature in Gandhara, Aryan and Buddhist art, said Ali. “In [the] Subcontinent, it has its own importance in warfare and as a means of conveyance for travelling,” he said.