World beyond the world opens at Chawkandi
By: Peerzada Salman
KARACHI: Examining artworks of a select group of artists gives us the indication that the difference between the palpable and the intangible, the perceived and the experiential, sometimes can be understood (read: measured, if you like) if we consider it as the ‘distance’ between them. By diminishing the distance, artists try and get the hang of the disparity between the two. This is what Donia Kaiser has tried to do in her latest body of work in an exhibition titled World beyond the World, which opened at the Chawkandi Art Gallery on Tuesday evening.
Before analysing Donia’s show, the viewer has to be familiar with the concept of darkness. It implies the state of not-knowing, what Hamlet calls the undiscovered land. No, there is no allusion to death here, in fact, the reference directly relates to life. With darkness comes the concept of light, its absolute opposite. But with Donia, the light is replaced by bold colours. These colours, especially blue, represent the barely known in a dark, dark world. Therefore, it’s these bold colours which have a language of their own, understandable language, even when there’s a human figure involved in the artwork.
‘Red Chili’ (gouache on wasli paper) sets the series off with the notion that the experiential will take centre stage in the exhibition, ready to be unearthed. But with ‘Sun and the Moon’ (gouache and mud on wasli paper) things begin to move into another domain, a realm where what’s seeable morphs into a dream-like state with, ironically, more clarity. This observation is vindicated by a remarkable piece called ‘A Family Snapshot’ where the enveloping darkness exposes the light (of individuals) which finds it difficult to accept the bleak truth.
Donia’s technical masterstroke comes in the exhibit ‘A Blue Tree’ where she, with a delectable blend of craft and aesthetic sense, turns an inanimate object into a living being. I know trees can hardly be called inanimate, but what the artist has done is that she has imparted a posture and language to the tree which tells a story like a living object, a sad story at that.