KARACHI: Before analysing a two-person exhibition titled Un-Thinking that’s under way at the Canvas Art Gallery, here’s a kind of a prelude to it:
The ad nauseam uttered and written Cartesian proposition ‘I think therefore I am’ is losing its charm, in the sense that without refuting its meaningfulness, modern-day writers and philosophers have altered it a great deal. For example, (and ironically this, too, has now been oft-quoted) one novelist believes that ‘I think therefore I am’ is a statement of an intellectual who underrates toothache. The fiction writer goes on to suggest that ‘I feel therefore I am’ is a truth more universally valid because the basis of the self is not thought, but suffering.
The two participating artists –– Sanie Bokhari and Zahrah Ehsan — are aware, rather acutely, of all these debates. So what they have done is that they have taken the ‘think’ part out of the equation and dealt with the situations that have compelled them to create artworks in a way that’s open to interpretation. Do not misunderstand: they are not negating their selves. Instead, they are putting the things that happen around them for the viewer’s perusal with a generic, non-specific dimension. This gives their creations a larger outreach. The ‘unthinking’ therefore signifies both the indifference on the part of society and the artists’ attitude to the sadness that they feel because of it.
Zahrah’s ‘Gold Raindrop’ series (acrylic, oil paint, markers on canvas) is a testimony to the observation. One gets the feeling that a fierce interior monologue is going on within her system. This is validated by her statement in which she mentions ‘stream of consciousness difficulties’. These difficulties pertain to ‘undelivered promises’. And this is where the ‘unthinking’ begins. The artist conveys the whole process intelligently.
Sanie approaches the subject with a wider angle. She touches on complex topics, such as those of memory and marriage, with a creative flair that both bedazzles and educates the viewer. The piece ‘How far does your memory go’ (charcoal, photo transfer on cardboard paper) is a reminder to society how important it is to look back, even when you are suffering or just thinking about nothing.