KARACHI: History, gender and culture are three subjects that have always influenced the artist community. But influence alone doesn’t become the reason for producing quality art. There has to be a sense of perturbation, a strong urge to scratch beneath the surface, which invariably results in the creation of paintings and sculptures worth looking at and mulling over. A three-person exhibition that opened at the Chawkandi Art Gallery on Tuesday tackles the above-mentioned three topics in an interesting way: the inquisitives of the artists — Ali Karimi, Zeeshan Memon and Rehana Latif — with regard to their chosen subject matter is in itself a work of art, so to speak.
Ali Karimi examines gender problems. For that he primarily focuses on gestures of male and female bodies. His work is uncomplicated and the technique simple (gold leaf and gouache on wasli, Indian ink and graphite on wasli, graphite on paper). To this writer’s mind, it is his graphite on paper artworks which best explain how impressive the artist’s craft is.
Zeeshan Memon studies socio-cultural patterns. His initial couple of pieces done in charcoal and ballpoint on paper incisively hide the person holding a gun but the gun that Zeeshan shows to the viewer has the colour red. Not just the gun, but the ring on the gun-holder’s finger and the chain to which he is tied in another exhibit are also red. This is undemanding symbolism, one that the viewer finds no difficulty in understanding. The artist’s comment on the gaudiness of Pakistani films can also be seen in that light.
Rehana Latif touches upon history without missing out on contemporary issues, employing gouache on wasli. Doing so, she throws in a lot of elements into the mix — script, animals, royalty and war — but keeps them individually distinct so that their role in shaping society becomes clear. Good stuff.
The exhibition will continue until Sept 24.