Flashbacks in the form of art -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Flashbacks in the form of art

Anil Datta

Karachi: Nostalgia is an inseparable ingredient of human nature and no matter how matter-of-fact or pragmatic we may profess to be, the element of viewing the past in a sentimental way is something that lies in the heart of apparently the most realistic among us.

Memories, which are so beautiful, tend to cling to an individual for life, making life so bitter-sweet. Those among us endowed with talent and skills have their own way of projecting these memories in a profound way.

Just one such person is Momin Zafar, whose paintings (Archival ink on archival paper) feature currently at the Koel Art Gallery.

Zafar does not resort to any modern or abstract school of painting and just conveys his feelings through the shades and their blending.

Almost all his paintings at the exhibition pivot around a mansion, 51-A Ferozepur Road Lahore, which was once their home. Once a stately home, it was an evacuee property left behind by some emigrating Hindu family at the time of partition.

In a footnote to the paintings, Zafar describes how once it was a happy home with the warmth that is imparted to a place by the presence of a large extended family. And then comes the decline when relatives begin to scatter, some going to other climes and greener pastures, and others embarking on their journey through eternity. With the departure of these, the dwelling also begins to lose its glimmer and begins showing signs of decay.

The same happens to 51-A, Ferozepur Road. Zafar, through his masterly shading technique, depicts the now deserted kitchen with empty of cold drink bottles which once were meant for all the children who would be assembling there during family reunions. Crates plastered with spider cobwebs, coupled with the shading, tell a complete story, a story of breaking of families and the warmth of being so many. In the same way, through a clever scheme of colours, he depicts the thick undergrowth in the back garden, the way it looks when the place is deserted.

The same is the case with Alia Bilgrami. She too seems to be inclined towards matters more philosophical. Her painting, Mapping Memories (graphite and watercolour on plywood), is all about displacement, suggesting that everything is transient and temporary. It is a surrealistic interpretation of memories of a clutter of things, with an abstract touch. The other artist, Nida Bangash, also has a number of her works on display, like one titled Attested, a collage of human faces with unusual expressions. Her work is natural pigments on handmade Khadee paper. The faces, though human, carry strange expressions as if to convey certain feelings. The exhibition runs up until April 20.

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