KARACHI: Putting artworks of more than four dozen artists on display has its advantages and disadvantages. The big plus is that the viewer gets a wide variety of artists to know about and to understand how different techniques are employed to reflect on life.
The negative aspect of it all is that since the number of exhibits is on the higher side, sometimes quality artworks are not given the attention they deserve. An exhibition of portraits by more than 50 artists can be seen these days at the Arts Council of Karachi’s Ahmed Pervaiz Gallery. Although some of the pieces are worth mentioning, there is too much to choose from that makes a reviewer’s life a tad difficult. Still, let’s give it a shot.
The oil-on-board work by artist Shahzad Younus grabs attention primarily because of its colour scheme. The portrait is marked by the shades of red and yellow that the artist has used to show a particular state of mind through a profile picture. As a result, the viewer gets absorbed in the explosion of colours rather than the profile that is what perhaps the artist wants.
Sunil Roger divides his image (oil on canvas) into two: one part signifies the normal self of the subject while the other its musical or artistic aspect. It could have been a more effective work of art if the artist had not been a bit excessive to depict the latter. A touch of subtlety might have done the trick.
Moin Shah makes three faces (acrylic on canvas) and helps the viewer distinguish between them through the eyes. The more the viewer looks at the exhibit the more he’s able to feel its latent intensity. Very impressive!
Adam Khan pays tribute to Pakistani film actors Wahid Murad and Mohammad Ali through dry pastels on paper; and does a decent job of it.
Kanchan Sharma turns da Vinci’s Mona Lisa into an ethnic sub-continental beauty (oil on canvas). The artist seems to be aware of the fact that it’s an oft-used idea therefore embellishes the character with a lot of things enabling the viewer to see the painting as a whole and not as derivative art.
Husna Naz keeps her watercolour work simple and makes simplicity look good.
The highlight of the exhibition, according to this writer, is Prof Mohammad Ali Bhatti’s beautiful portrait of a girl (oil on canvas). The picture is surreally real on so many levels. First of all, the subject gives off a pure vibe. Then her gaze does not appear forced or dictated; it is so candid as if she’s aware of being painted and tacitly approves of it. And finally, Mr Bhatti has captured the smile like a seasoned artist.
Mind you, the show is not just about personal aspects of life. Farhan Ahsan comes up with an artwork that portrays a ‘target killer’ (mixed media on wood metal and rusted iron). And it is one disturbing image.