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Dreamland

Author: Naiza Khan      Publications: The Friday Times– Art (p- 18)      Dated: 8 Dec 2000

Exhibition Navigation

I see Afshar Maliks current work against the multiple threads of printmaking activity that have been his medium of choice up till now. His own private spaces are reflected in his current work as distinctly as they were five years ago, when l visited his studio in the hidden streets of Chauburji, Lahore.

Afshar Maliks latest works are on display at the Chawkandi Art museum. This collection consists of calligraphy plates which are not printed, but instead worked densely with inks and acrylics through collaged materials and printed text. A good illustration of this technique comes through in the piece titled, “email my heart”. Faces, vegetation, and objects surface through this density, creating the sense that they are floating. There are many references to dreams and nocturnal passages in his works, including “A dream called a night plant and “interrupting dreams”.

Unlike Maliks earlier works, which projected his view of the world in such detail that they were almost difficult to digest, this body of work comes from a different perspective. He has changed the way he sees things around him; it seems as though he has decided to move away from finesse and re-learn everything, giving his work a fresh perspective. The evolution in Afshar Maliks prints illustrates how his connection between image and technique has strengthened over time.

ln the latest collection, you can see minute details unfolding across larger surfaces. lt`s almost as if he has inverted the fabric of his earlier, less accessible, process. The linear has given way to spatial form and volume, and the material, sensory quality of his work is more evident than it has ever been before. Yet Malik has used colour liberally and retained the specific quality of his earlier prints. Playing cleverly on the idea of “art as digestible”, he has divided colours into “edible” and “no edible” categories.

Even though he has explored a new medium in this body of work, “a way of drawing by cutting paper,” Malik says he has borrowed from his earlier experiences with printmaking, ceramics, and painting. Its not the first time this has happened. When he started working with clay in 1994, he had felt that modelling in clay was very similar to drawing.

His work is replete with symbols from his childhood, evoking the birds his grandfather kept, the security he felt in his uncles embrace, and the dias.

His latest technique, “drawing by cutting” has an approach similar to forms of folk art like tapestry, patchwork and rillis. Like these cultural artifacts, dreams, inspirations, and untold stories are women into his art.

The element of time is still very evident in Afshars current work. Its almost as if he wants to span huge distances of time and space within one frame. This emphasis is underlined by a focus on maps and travelling objects.

Given the mature content of this exhibition, you could almost say he has reached a landmark in his artistic career; now, what he produces is closely connected to his life. His beliefs are rooted in scientific logic, but his art expresses a simple logic, almost like the workings of an innocent child.