Four and other elements opens at Canvas
KARACHI: It is believed that there exists a delicate balance between different elements, one that must be maintained if there is hope for equilibrium in the universe. A slight discrepancy may have disastrous consequences. However, that is not always the case. A continual blur between the four classical elements, and more, and the oscillating variations with regards to their presence in one’s life was the theme behind the art exhibition titled ‘Four and other elements’, held on Tuesday.
The show was curated by Aamna Hussain, whose first exhibition, earlier this year, ‘Silence Please’ opened to rave reviews. Stressing the need for a proper appreciation of the art behind curating a show, Ms Hussain spoke at length about the genesis of the idea and the painstaking, yet unappreciated efforts to not just select artists for the exhibition, but also try and bring a sense of cohesion to the show. Each painting must complement the thematic significance, while at the same time reinforce its individuality. It must blend in and still stand out on its own merit. For her, this is what makes her job, as an art curator, extremely challenging, yet very rewarding: “The theme and the selection of art pieces makes all the difference between a show and a curated show.”
In an attempt to “blur the lines between form and content”, but also explore multiple manifestations of nature, in both organic and non-organic forms, the participating artists included Ghulam Mohammad, Julius John, Kiran Saleem, Sehr Jalil and Suleman Aqeel Khilji.
There were multiple interpretations of the theme, which included an overwhelming array of stimuli, or at times a complete lack of it. In both the works by Mr Mohammad, untitled pieces, the monotone expression was cleverly employed to convey multiple narrations. It was a commentary on the banality of life, also part of the ‘other’ elements that the show was based on, as well as a take on how language can be used as a metaphor, and as a means to maim, hurt, or even soothe.
In contrast to the muted tone of Mr Mohammed was that of Ms Jalil who used an amalgamation of different visuals, and colours, to convey existential crises in her works. Her piece ‘One day’ was an especially powerful one that displayed the artist’s take on the physical and the metaphysical. Language, the other element, was also incorporated into her work and on the whole she employed multiple mediums of communication to convey her take on the sense of utopia, and imagining and finding paradise.
Mr John’s paper boats that flowed on a running stream, denoted by a sheet of black plastic, summed up the artist’s appreciation for his roots, as well as the journey that led him here. The piece is inspired by Rabindranath Tagore’s poem ‘Paper boats’, and lines from the poem are used to describe the art: “Day by day I float my paper boats one by one down the running stream. In big black letters I write my name on them and the name of the village where I live. I hope that someone in some strange land will find them and know who I am.”
Kiran Saleem’s detailing on her untitled pieces was very thought-provoking, especially the one which displayed a 3D image of an ear, illustrated with the help of a mixed medium.
Another rare interpretation of the theme was by Mr Khilji who, using mix media on Morrocon sheet, displayed the idealism of leading a life in a bubble. Titled ‘Bubble 1’ and ‘Bubble 2’, the garish and jarring images both repelled and attracted. His scale of work was also much larger than most, so all the elements jelled together to create a disturbing cocktail of emotions. For him, it was essential to explore the themes of identity and displacement.
With a wide range of mediums used, the exhibition took the conventional form of art gave it a spin that displayed the use of mixed media, assemblage, paper and digital collages and even enamel paint on paper.