Pretty with a Punch
Author: David Hammond Publications: Hude Art Gallery Dated: 28 Oct
ONE of the advantages of living in multi-cultural Kirklees is the easy access to any number of events to widen ones view of the world and its peoples.
lt is through the initiative of Alnoor Mitha, of Huddersfield Art Gallery and Richard Hylton, of Oldham Art Gallery, that we now have the chance to see a major exhibition of work by six prominent Pakistani artists.
Their efforts to provide such a show began two years ago with a visit to Pakistan, and after much work and negotiation, it must have been a gratifying moment for them when the High Commissioner of Pakistan, His Excellency Wajid Shamsul Hasan, opened the resulting event, Tampered Surfaces.
A highlight of the preview was a dramatic performance by Indian dancer Nina Raiarani.
Any idea that an exhibition of this ilk might have some narrow ethnic connotation is soon dispelled by the breadth and variety of the work on view. A strongly figurative approach by the artists is matched by sensitivity and sophistication in the treatment of the subject matter.
Take Iftikhar Dadis photographs, where the telling imagery, though presented with detachment, is wonderfully evocative, whether conveying the feel of working in a textile mill or being an Indian in the days of British rule and white supremacy.
Dadi has had a residency in Oldham and Huddersfield but in his efforts to portray the life of immigrant communities decided to take an historical view and found some fascinating archival material in the India Office of the British Library, which he has used in symbolic, rather than documentary fashion – hence the lack of titles.
The other section of his work is equally symbolic, with multiple, manipulated images from Pakistani films and soft focus used most effectively to question roles and values and the divide between high art, photography and popular culture in the country.
Akram Dost Balochs work has definite titles which show his concern for the lack of human rights in an unjust and divided society, with civil and religious oppression.
His engraved paintings on board in dark shades are reminiscent of religious icons, but their subject matter – The Rape, The Oppressed Sex, The Face of Horror – are disturbing reminders of the reality of present day life, not comforting tokens of the hereafter.
Samina Mansuris drawings and paintings, in charcoal and mixed media, are also concerned with the human condition and relationships, but are much less explicit in the way this is interpreted.
Her work is based on natural forms — she uses the sensuous and powerful imagery of flours du mal and their exotic roots as a metaphor for life in a country of harsh sunlight, where extremes are the norm.
Some of the paintings come close to sculpture, with terracotta used to build up the surface pattern, and one of the works, Homage to ED, is, in fact, a bas-relief sculpture in cast aluminium.
Images about women looking at men looking at women
The main sculptural contribution to the exhibition comes from Durriya Kazi, of Karachi. Her works in cast aluminium reflect the violence experienced there and the need for good to assert itself.
Angel figures, carrying haloes, are mounted on top of large Navy shell cases to form a gateway opening (Shigaf). lmarah (a Sufi term) recalls the sheet on which Muslims lay out thousands of seeds to pray over after a death. (Too many young people have died, says the sculptor).
Ghashia represents the Day of Judgement. Angel figures stand guard outside a chest-like box in which we peer in, to see, on one side, a rough impression of the Muslim vision of heaven, with its two rivers, and on the other, a not-too- frightening portrayal of hell.
With the often precarious existence in Karachi in mind, the moving sculpture Close As Cloves, in cast stone, shows a family draw close together, finding in ward strength a tects itself against outside forces.
Expressionist painter Liaqat Ali has prvivid, arresting work in a considered too from a modern young man to life in a Republic, where religious conservatism ellite televisions pull people in a direction.
In his mysterious Revelation, eight figures are seated round a shroud In Re Mirror, floating nudes and mask-like for attention.
Nudes always gain attention, of cou thats the concern of the innovation and the Sumaya Durrani, in whose lithograph European women crop up in all kinds of on a plate in a table setting or jux with a piece of literature or a rafha man.
The artists beautifully presented with their accent on pattern and fat pretty with a punch. The viewer is made vulnerable, like a voyeur.
The images are about women looking looking at women, Salima Hashmi write catalogue.
“They are about male-female maniple and about the convenience of lables comfort of easily readable signs. They at the seductiveness of rhythm and pattern what lurks beneath those layers.”