Icons of Art opens
Water colour on paper, work by Allah Bux. – Photo by White Star
KARACHI: It is one thing to go to an exhibition of artworks by a budding or established artist but it is quite another to visit a gallery where works of not one but nine masters are on display, simply because art buffs reach there with the kind of excitement that can be pretty intimidating. This was the feeling that one had on the opening day of a group show titled ‘Icons of Art from Pakistan’ at the Artscene Galleries on Thursday.
Works of nine legends — Ismail Gulgee, Askari Mian Irani, Anwar Jalal Shemza, Allah Bux, Abdur Rehman Chughtai, Colin David, Saeed Akhtar, Jamil Naqsh and the enigmatic Sadequain — simply make the viewer realise that not too long ago Pakistan’s art scene was aesthetically rich and contextually provocative. We still have some big names amongst us, but some might argue that in totality the art scene in the country is not as challenging for the viewer as it was till the recent past. The matter is open for debate.
The inimitable Gulgee is there with his swishing and whirling strokes (oil on canvas), reminding the viewer of the frenzied style with which the great artist used to work.
Saeed Akhtar makes women look beautiful and mysterious at the same time. Imagine a work of art in which a lovely face is eclipsed by the flowing, cascading hair. His charcoal-on-paper exhibits in particular are worth marveling at.
It is weird that though subjects of Jamil Naqsh’s ink-on-paper sketches and Allah Bux’s watercolour-on-paper landscapes are poles apart, they look equally stimulating, perhaps on the same level. This is an acknowledgment of their craft, which has an ancillary role to play if we study their art in entirety.
Colin David takes the viewer to a different domain. Here is someone whose personal work comes across as something that might have happened or could happen to the viewer as well — the theory of probability espoused by Aristotle.
Etching prints of Chughtai and Shemza are stupendous in their own right, as is Irani’s content — no need to elaborate on that.
Finally, that master who was an artist to his fingertips, Sadequain, makes his presence felt with a couple of pen-on-paper sketches. The date is May 31, 1983. The city is Quetta. The artist is Sadequain. Nothing more, nothing less!
The exhibition will continue till May 25.—Peerzada Salman