The studio and the artist
KARACHI: It is fascinating how modern-day painters and sculptors are increasingly becoming openly, almost with a sense of pride, interested in the interrelatedness of art’s various genres, and in the creative trends that unfold in other parts of the world.
An exhibition of Hasnat Mehmood’s latest series of artworks that is under way at the Canvas Art Gallery is another convincing testimony to it. The show is called The Studio That Creates Itself –– with a subheading of sorts –– After Allen Ruppersberg’s The Novel That Writes Itself. For the uninitiated, Allen Ruppersberg is a renowned American artist.
The pronoun ‘itself’ suggests a process of organic growth of a studio or a creative space which gets built up because of an unsaid but deep artist-viewer attachment. A look at a similar small space within the gallery is indicative of it. Wait. There’s more to it than meets the eye.
No, the reference is not to the ‘interstice’ (a la Karl Marx) aspect of art that Mehmood touches upon when he describes his creative drifts. It is his immense fondness for the community that he’s a part of which comes through with delightful energy in his works (although the effort is ostensibly aimed at highlighting a personal or impersonal reality). This is evident from his graphite-on-paper exhibits. Multiple technical and content-laden strands are working simultaneously here. His tribute to Andy Warhol’s iconic pop cultural references, such as soup cans, are heightened, and assume a local context, with the use of a simple phrase, ‘made in Pakistan’. Yet, Warhol never slides out of the equation. The fuzzy nature of the artwork, ironically, adds (and does not take away) to the richness of the idea originated in the 1960s.
As far as Mehmood’s craft goes, well, a good look at his untitled scratch board drawings will make the viewer realise how competent an artist he is.
The exhibition concludes on Jan 10.