Love Roots and Paints
Author: Shamim Akhter Publications: Daily News– Weekend (p.3) Dated: 2 Jun 2007
After showcasing paintings by Asad-ur- Rahman for a week (10th to 16th April 2007), Chawkandi Art is running an exhibition of miniature paintings by two young artists Asif and Sobia from NCA, Lahore. Asif Ahmed lives in Karachi. He did his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1st Division with Distinction in 2004 (with Miniature as a Major subject). He was awarded merit scholarship by the college in 2003. His thesis display titled Manjara Nama won him distinction in 2004. He also received Ustad Haji Sharif Award in Miniature Painting 2005. His selected group exhibitions top with Chawkandi Art and in 2006 this is his second exhibition at Chawkandi Art and “Transcending Borders”, at ITC Mourya Sheraton Delhi, India in 2006. He has participated in group exhibitions at Ejaz Art Gallery, Lahore, Crow eaters Gallery, Lahore, Group show, japan, Kunj Art Gallery, Karachi and Al-Hamra Gallery, Lahore in 2005. Asifs upcoming Exhibitions in 2007 include opening show at National Art Gallery, lslamabad, and 3 Persons Show (with Mudassar Manzoor and M. Zeeshan) at Chappe Art Gallery, Paris, France. The two- person show at Chawkandi is the first one in 2007.
Asif adopts simple humanistic approach on his waslis. He divides his space with circles and straight lines and then fills the circles with flowers and faces. Various forms in simple drawing occupy other places. Straight lines create cubic effects. Winged males hold the focal point. Naked male body on canvas was initiated by Anwer Saeed. After his return from Sri Lanka. Ali Kazim gave it a different meaning on his canvases depicting people of the streets involved in mundane activities. Some of Asifs miniatures have similar forms with closed eyes or eyeballs without iris. Some of the waslis are decorated with cloud like forms on the upper part of the surface. Where there are no roses, there is lotus like florets sprinkled here and there. Whatever the forms and issues, Asif has a fine drawing sensibility. He is perfect with the anatomy of the male figure.
For Asif art is the only expression through which he can interact with the society and environment. It also reflects his views about this world. He cannot conceive the world without human beings because he loves people. He wants to understand their happiness, sufferings, joys, etc, he feels that we all are related with each other through a tenuous web of relationships; our behaviour makes or breaks the web. Asif says, “We can save or destroy this web with a single gesture. So nowadays my work resonates with the sound of “love”. For me true love means total surrender. I believe that if we are true lovers then we have to be like puppets in our lovers hands. In true love ego has to go out of the window. Thats why; l is using my figures with closed or crossed eyes to make them look like puppets. Strings tied to puppets are another important element in my work. According to imagery, myth is a regulating factor in my work, specially the gods of love like “Cupids”, and roses, and the sign of love as well. Sometimes, a symbol of compass arrives, shows the right direction / perfect guidance of our journeys on which we are moving on. For me human relationships are like a vast, fragile spiders web and what I am trying to do with my work is to restore part of that web.
Being trained as a miniature artist, my work reflects different traditional schools of thought. The medium too is the same: natural opaque watercolours on wasli, tea stains and leaves of silver and gold. Visually my work represents the essence of miniatures in pattern and skill, but the style is contemporary.
Sobia Ahmed, who appeared in a group exhibition in March this year, approached her wasli with trees and flowers having octopus like shoots running in various directions. At places one saw a female body entangled in the web of floral design. There were butterflies to indicate dreams of the youth and attached to the pleasing situations were prongs to catch them in an unaware moment. She spread the roots of trees also on the surface and made everything appear beautiful for the viewer.
At Chawkandi, she has replaced the butterflies with crows and cats. The entangled woman looks eye to eye with cats. With refined lines she creates the essence of traditional miniature in a contemporary language.
Sobia Ahmed qualified in Miniature from NCA, Lahore, in 2004 and soon after had a solo show at her alma mater (Miniature Studio). Chawkandi introduced her to the Karachi viewers in 2006, the year when her works were a part of group shows at Nomad, Islamabad, and Maurya Sheraton, New Delhi. She had exposure in Japan, Koyoto Museum, Expo Japan, Ejaz Galleries, Lahore and Kunj Art Gallery in 2005. Earlier in 2004 she participated in a group show at Ustad and Shagird, NCA and Nairang Gallery, Lahore.
A passionate painter, Asad-ur-Rehman, who is a French artist of Pakistani origin, came from Islamabad to exhibit his paintings at Chawkandi. His expressionistic works appear to some as abstract and to some as cubistic. He rejects these interpretations. These are expressionistic works on relationships; figures appear and disappear through layers of different colours. Asad has been experimenting with the liquidity of paints for the past ten years. He prepares the ground with washes of colour and then takes further action for images to play hide and seek. He runs down a fully soaked in oils brush on the prepared ground so that the pigment can run down the surface. Along with it, his subconscious plays its role to create the scenario on his canvases. ln the process, the figures that appear, rather peep out of the colours, can be described as hieroglyphic figurations. Sometimes he makes a conscious effort and the figures are done by scrapping the surface. He also creates illusive effects with his forms. Figures start disappearing and their twisting gestures take their place. ln the sequence, one finds two bottle shaped forms, which have been produced from a particular angle, appear to be three in number.
Asad has been living in Paris for the past two decades. He admits that the influence of some western artists on his work is unavoidable as he attends exhibitions and visits museums there. He believes that experiments in creativity are unending. Feelings of anxieties react in various shapes; painting these is always opening vistas for new experiments. Just one feeling can be painted in various guises of colour and form. The idea is not to achieve perfection but to see how far he can go. He never plans his paintings. He likes to be surprised by what comes out on his canvases as a result of his efforts.