The Reckoning in the Garden opens
By: Peerzada Salman
KARACHI: Gardens primarily symbolise two things: a personal space where one can find solace and can be at ease in feeling submissive; and the creation whose creator sits somewhere invisible to the naked eye and allows things to bloom or shrivel. Over the years artists and writers have used the garden metaphor as something that can help man cultivate his senses, including the sixth sense, but things can’t always be rosy. An exhibition of the latest body of work by artist Laila Rahman titled The Reckoning in the Garden opened at the Koel Art Gallery on Thursday.
As soon as the viewer looks at the first exhibit, Sirat-i-Mustaqeem (oil, pencil and graphite on canvas), the tumult that the artist must have experienced while drawing it becomes evident. Clearly the chaos that one sees in this world and the disorder, physical as well as on the psychological plane, is something that has either perturbed the artist or inspired her. The thick strokes that appear in the form of plumes of smoke or something sinister and the lines that go haywire indicate the unrest; however, the circular shape of the moon albeit dark as night is motionless and, in a manner of speaking, casts a spell that might not be undesirable. For the Sirat-i-Mustaqeem part the viewer will have to look at the top of the artwork.
Of course, the symbolism here, as in The Reckoning in the Garden (oil on canvas) has religious overtones, which is where the artworks draw their spiritual and aesthetic strengths from.
In Balancing Act (oil and pencil on paper), the artist plays with the tried and tested idea of headless bodies to underscore indecision and the lack of direction that is symptomatic not just of the malaise that present-day society is suffering from but also in the historical context.
Other than that, the exhibition has some delicate etchings in which Laila Rahman displays her craft in a different light. The piece titled ‘Let us make man in our image’ (etching and aquatint) makes the viewer appreciate it both in terms of skill and content, the latter carrying the message ‘which of your Lord’s marvels can you deny’. The exhibition will continue till Jan 5, 2013.