Changing shape of art over three decades
Karachi: Artist Quddus Mirza delivered a lecture on the changing shape of art over the last 30 years, sharing his concerns and ideas with the audience at the Fomma-DHA Art Centre on Friday.
The artist also discussed his works spanning the period 1983-2013 at the event organised by
The ArtNow Springboard Series and the Foundation for Museum of Modern Art (Fomma) Trust.
Mirza, the editor of ArtNow, is an artist, art critic and an independent curator who presently teaches at the prestigious National College of Art in Lahore, and has also received training at the Royal College of Art, London.
With the help of slides, he portrayed dozens of his works and revealed the kind of complicated thinking and the intricate network of thought processes at work in an artist’s head.
“Art is not one person’s work. We see the world as an illusion that is created out of an artwork,” Mirza told the audience. He showed the slide of his work titled “Utopia of a Tired Man”, an oil and mixed media on canvas. It was the portrait of a man in the sunset of his life and has an array of expressions on his face; a face that has seen the many vicissitudes of time. The idea is that it reflects the influence of various teachers who had their own personalities, their own idiosyncrasies on the artist.
“In art, time can be juxtaposed, meaning thereby that we live simultaneously in two chronological worlds,” Mirza said.
He illustrated this statement by quoting an instance. He said that one day he was going along the Queen’s Road in Lahore and in front of the Ganga Ram Hospital, he saw a bullock cart that looked just as if it were from the 5,000 years old Mohenjodaro civilisation.
Here, he said, it was a case of living simultaneously in two worlds thousand of years apart. He termed this “the multiplicity of time”.
Mirza also explained the phenomenon whereby art can be a symbol of one’s identity. He said that he belonged to a village in the Punjab where watermelons were aplenty and one could see them lying all over the place. Then, when he went to London, and was going around a supermarket, he saw a slice of a watermelon wrapped in a cellophane paper with a price tag of 1.2 pounds. Rather than the scarcity of the commodity and the price, what, he said, struck him was that it came to him as a symbol of his national identity. Through that slice of watermelon he was reminded of his homeland, his moorings.