Worth a thousand meanings
KARACHI: French artist Henri Souffay has enhanced the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words; for him, a picture is worth a thousand meanings.
He hosted his fifth solo exhibition in Pakistan at the ArtChowk gallery on Tuesday under the title, ‘Rites de Passage’. Working with pen and ink on paper, Souffay lends a variety of meanings to his works. The exhibition will continue till January 31.
“My drawings show a world of dreams or regrets, hopes or souvenirs, from grandeur to decay, from life to death, eventually awaiting rebirth in a repeated ritual of passage from one world to another,” said Souffay, while explaining the idea behind his works.
Pointing towards a picture named ‘Passage’, he said that it shows several doors in one door which depicts the long-lasting journey of a human being.
In many of his works, he depicts his love for Pakistan and, particularly, for Karachi. “My work with ‘Disappearing Karachi’ shows how this city has lost its beauty with time,” he sighed. “This piece of work shows a hotel located somewhere between Cantt Station and Clifton Bridge, which is disappearing now with the changing infrastructure of the city.”
Explaining the idea behind the masterpiece titled ‘Malala’s window’, he said the depiction of Malala’s window is something that came from the mixed reactions of people after she was attacked. “The torn and scattered books and the broken window is a sign of her hard work and dedication towards education and her goal.”
Most of his art pieces are caught in transition, leading from one state to another. Replying to a visitor, he said that he just tried to show a glimpse of things, leaving the rest entirely up to the imagination of the viewer. Pointing towards his piece titled ‘The Gate’, he said that his works allow the viewers to derive the meaning they want to take out of the piece. “If you see this piece, it is a gate which I think is broken,” he said. “But many of the visitors think that one side of the gate is open to welcome life. This is called the easiness of work which leaves the viewer to understand the way he wants to.”
Having no professional degree in fine arts, Souffay learnt this skill by himself. “All of the work is first drawn by pencil as a sketch then I use ink pen to complete its beauty,” he told The Express Tribune.
The artist works with ‘Rotring’ pen with a thin nib. “I use the pen of mostly 0.15mm and 0.2mm which only can be used to draw dots, but I make my whole drawing with them,” said Souffay. “Each of the 22 pieces have been made on Canson paper, which weighs 300gm per square metre and is also one of the best papers used for fine art work.”