Childhood innocence a wellspring of creativity
Karachi: There’s art exhibitions galore in town, all the trendy art galleries capitalise on the public penchant for the weird and the comic. All sorts of modern, avant-garde art forms are there, art forms where the viewer lets his imagination run away with him.
There are works which call for mental acrobatics with superlative alacrity to guess as to what the artist is trying to convey. And of course, it finally boils to the typically capitalist phenomenon, the profit motive ruling the roost and paintings fetching six-figure prices.
However, there are those exhibitions too which conform to the conventional definition of art and are a pleasure to see. They are a vivid reflection of the talent that exists for genuine art in our society.
One such exhibition is running currently at the Alliance Francais. It is an expose of the works of children of the 10-12 age group of the Quality School of Azam Town.
The paintings are not fixed in exquisite high-priced frames. They are just on wooden boards not more than six inches by six inches or on ordinary copy book sized plain white paper. Yet even in that very limited space, the children have amply uncovered their talent, and their innate desires.
Terminal and Afshan are two children whose paintings, titled, Dog in the Rain, conceive dogs as the most cuddly creatures. In all the paintings, the dogs are depicted to be standing on their hind legs and look more like the canines the way they are depicted in greeting cards or as stuffed toys. Perhaps this could be attributed to the fact that the children belong to a purely working class locality where, smitten by the hardships of daily living, as in every capitalist set-up, buying stuffed toys can be a luxury. So perhaps it is their desires reflected in these meticulous works.
Then there are a series of paintings of pansies, on plain white paper. There no expensive or sophisticated oils-on-canvas or highfalutin media, just plain white paper, yet the paintings of the pansies are a real please to watch, reddish pansies against a sky blue background. In short there’s profound beauty in the simplicity of the works.
Of course these children really seem to be fully aware of their more sophisticated surroundings. Two of the children, Talha and Nisha, have painted the city skylines with utmost precision and profundity.
The exhibition unmistakably drives home the fact that one doesn’t have to be from a very affluent background to be talented, that the talent curve is uniformly distributed over all segments of society. It’s just that selfish as a capitalist society is, the less fortunate have to be afforded more opportunities to uncover their talent. Talent is like the lotus which radiates its beauty even amid the most sordid of surroundings. The lotus, pleasure that it is for the eye, flourishes on murky pond water. These 11 children are just like a bunch of lotuses.
Of course, Kiran Javed, director of the school, Mehreen Hashmi, the chief force behind motivating these children, and Sophia Qureshi deserve all the laurels for having initiated such a programme, whereby many of these children, in due course, through the kind of encouragement they have been accorded, could go on to become celebrated artists.