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Miniatures on Display

Author: Shamim Akhter      Publications: Daily News– Weekend (p.3)      Dated: 29 Apr 2006

Exhibition Navigation

Chawkandi Art is running an exhibition of miniature paintings by six artists from National College of Arts, Lahore. The show opened on 18th April 2006. The participants include Farwa Hussain Naqvi, Attiya Shaukat, Kiran Saeed, Sobia Ahmed, Farah Jabeen and Asif Ahmed.

It is interesting to note that what was purely a male domain in the arts in the past has now been taken over by female artists. Like many more group exhibitions of miniature paintings, the one at Chawkandl also speaks for the fact. At Chawkandi also the group includes five women against one male artist. ln these times of rush and hurry, only women can have the patience required for miniature painting. Painting with hair thin brush is like embroidering with the thinnest needle. Only very delicate men like Asif, Waseem, Zeeshan and Imran can stick to the genre. The rest of them discover new avenues of expression. Some go into photography and some venture into theatre.

The most striking work at Chawkandi was that of Attiya Shaukat. Her eight paintings were self-centred stories. The work was absolutely individualistic forcing the viewers to pause and listen to the sobs buried beneath paints. On one of the canvases there were vertebras stringed like flowers, flowing towards an unknown ending like an elegy. On most of the canvases one saw feet with bandaged thumb or a thumb beneath gauze. This is what Attiya sees and feels and swallows the biting pain in silence. Her highly personal narratives tell a sad tale of the tragedy she is living with now and no one knows until when she will live with it. It was just a “flick of a second”- also the title of her mini thesis, while she was working on it in May 2003. Attiya fell down from a height of eight feet when she was mounting a hanging on the wall. The fall changed her life course. lt took her sometime to gather her shattered nerves. She discovered that she would be living to suffer. For her survival she braved the situation by finding meaning in her suffering. She paints because she needs to as her creativity has therapeutic effects on her soul and body.

Attiyas recent displays at Chawkandi are a continuation of her thesis project. She explores her psyche and realizes that one cannot feel the pain unless one goes through the suffering. She tries to express to the full her pain and the hurt she has to live with. That is the only remedy she has for herself. Her feet play the focal point in her works. She has taken help from photographic images of her feet. She has translated her suffering caused by thumb infection, which has been continuing for the past 15 months. A young woman, Attiya is hopeful and finds that “today is better than yesterday.”

Compositions on Attiyas vaslis are centralized because she has a back problem as an aftermath of the fall. She divides spaces to create three-dimensional effects. Hen palette over plays red and blue. She uses red to show the hazard of being stuck somewhere in life and is unable to see down the road. There are moments in life when one finds oneself heading towards an alley with a dead end with mist around not knowing where to take the next step. The blue on her vaslis refers to vastness around her.

Kiran Saeed paints progression of time. There is past and present hand in hand on her vaslis. Past is like a sweet dream depicting the glory of the Mughal kings and present is the reality in which we live for today. The glory of the princes is over and the princess is going to her workplace in simple clothes. The background shows middle class dwelling in need of repairs.

Asif Ahmed also plays with the same theme. The prince today is found only in the textbooks of history. Sobia Ahmed has placed todays women on traditional motifs. Farah Jabeen delicately renders the traditional princess in current surroundings. Farwa Hussain Naqvi comments on present dark ages and paints pink lotus as symbols of hope and enlightenment against prevalent dark currents.