Realism and more
KARACHI: Distinguished Italian film-maker and one of the foremost exponents of art-house cinema Federico Fellini did not see any line between the real and the imaginary. If someone asked him about his convoluted film narratives he’d snub him, suggesting everything was realistic. The undeniable fact is that realism in art cannot be defined in abstract terms. It’s all about ‘call them as you see them’.
Artist Akram Spaul, too, might not like to draw the line between realism, super-realism and hyper-realism. But when he paints he wows art lovers by making things difficult for them to discern whether life imitates art or art echoes life. An exhibition of Spaul’s work, which concluded on Saturday at the Art Scene Gallery, titled ‘Vision beyond the Visible’ reaffirms the artist’s lofty position among his peers.
The show greets the viewer with the typical Spaul artwork in which two objects (chair and cap) are given prominence as a shadow looms large on them. These object become identifiable characters when the viewer starts relating to the shadow.
But the bulk of Spaul’s work in the exhibition is on windows and doors. In the former case, it’s the windows of old, colonial buildings, something that most of us have seen and some are aware of. The artist paints them without making them look non-contemporary, and yet the viewer cannot miss the vintage vibe that the artworks give off.
The play on light and shadow is something that Spaul not only excels in but seems to enjoy at the same time. While the viewer is busy trying to soak the realism of his artworks, the artist turns shadows, created by the source light, into metaphors. In one exhibit, there’s a door with green and white circles drawn on it. It’s interesting for two reasons. One, there’s a hint of surrealism within realistic confines; two, it reminds the viewer of the last scene from the famous Peter Weir film The Truman Show. Yes, when Truman walks out of the artificial world through the door that he doesn’t know if it’s real or not.