Nagori’s satirical art show opens | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

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Nagori’s satirical art show opens

Peerzada Salman

KARACHI: Last year on Jan 14 the world of art was saddened by the demise of a great artist A.R. Nagori. To mark his first death anniversary, an exhibition of some of his outstanding works loaded with political satire began at the Art Scene Gallery on Monday.

The marked feature of exhibitson display is that on the one hand they are a no-holds-barred commentary on the sociopolitical happenings in the country, particularly of the time when Gen Ziaul Haq`s asphyxiating dictatorship was in full swing, on the other hand they clearly indicate that despite the nature of his work Prof Nagorinever compromised on the aesthetic side to his art. The result: a brilliant combination of eyecatching and thought provoking paintings.

There is hardly any exhibit which will not make the viewer marvel at Nagori`s craft and wonder at his courage. Ziaul Haq and his fellow martial-law imposing generals have been depicted as part of a pack of cards, heavily decorated and looking as brutal and vicious as the viewer would expect them to be. Here it should be reminded that Nagori`s antimartial law series of paintings were a rage in the `80s and had invited the then military regime`s wrath.

The artist does not stop at pointing out dictators` brutalities. His remarkable understanding of international relations makes him draw paintings like `Beyond the Liaison` (mixed media on board).

How powerful countries play games with other relatively smaller nations to safeguard their interests is depicted in the piece in unequivocal terms, yet has all the elements of a work of art: the fine lines, the light use of colours, the terrifying smirk on the protagonist`s face, etc.

`Proliferating Grotesquerie` (mixed media on paper) is a continuation of the theme of militaristic atrocities viewing the jackboot squashing the head of a commoner, causing the blood to spill sends a shiver down the viewer`s spine.`Divine Brutalities` (mixed media on paper) discusses the tussle between zulmat (darkness) and noor (light) in the same vein and context.

But if anyone thinks that A.R. Nagori was stuck in a particular time loop, they must rethink. The plight of the people of `Bajour` in a 36×18 oil-on-canvas exhibit is a heart-rending delineation of facts.

The migrating women and children carrying sacks filled with utilities with a plane and a helicopter menacingly hovering over their heads, not to mention the thick, dense sky and a vast, endless field speaks for how the artist saw that particular part of the country in a war-on-terror situation. It is the common people, the underprivileged, for whom the ground beneath their feet and the sky above their heads never provide solace.

To exemplify versatility, not that the great man needed to, `Separation` (oil on canvas) and a few pieces which deal with the psy-chological and sensual aspects of life are there in the exhibition as well. And they are no less striking.

Nagori`s homage to another master in `Guernican Proliferation Perpetuates` (oil on canvas) is adeparture from the theme of the display in terms of technique and at the same time looks an integral part of it because of its subject: destruction.

The exhibition will run till Jan 21.

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