Caravaggio in Karachi
KARACHI: Quddus Mirza is one of Pakistan’s leading artists. He also has proven credentials as an art writer. So whenever he puts on display his new works expectations always rocket sky-high. And an exhibition of his latest body of artworks that opened at the Canvas Art Gallery on Tuesday lives up to expectations in every sense of the phrase.
There are only four oil-on-canvas paintings on view and there’s a reason for it. It is difficult for the viewer to look at each cursorily, because all the four pieces require undivided attention. Mirza is not an artist who draws because he has to. He paints because he feels like it. Why does he feel like it? Answer: the society he’s part of keeps him focused on the upheavals it experiences on a nonstop, regular basis.
Mirza has the violence-stricken city of Karachi in mind but he puts two different worlds and different milieus together to create a continuum of ideas. The first exhibit is called ‘Caravaggio in Karachi’. Is he talking about the famous Italian artist? Or is it something else? The drama that the great master suffused his paintings with is there though, along with a distinct presence of colours. The order reverses in the second exhibit, ‘Karachi in Caravaggio’, and the new thing here is smudges, splotches and chaos. It seems like readily understandable stuff. This is where the viewer is bound to make a mistake. It has to be dealt with on the level of ‘feeling’, not understanding.
‘MS World’ juxtaposes two sides of a coin. Mind you, it can be two different coins; Mirza is presenting them as one. On the left is the same disorderliness with an explosion of colours, and on the right there’s the serenity marked by unspoiled nature. However, the character that’s apparently enjoying nature’s tranquility has a posture that suggests lack of comfort.
The exhibition will continue until Oct 17.