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The Curious Case of the Intangible

Author: Marjorie Husain      Publications: Dawn– Group Show (p.9)      Dated: 6 Apr 2014

Exhibition Navigation

Intangible Concerns is the title of an exhibition by three eminent artists who, though working in different disciplines, share a contemporary expressive reference to the complexity of human existence. Mounted at the Chawkandi Art, Karachi, the work of Meher Afroz, R.M. Naeem and Abdul Jabbar Gull created a strong message with a diversity of unique and personal approach.

ln a timeless reference to spiritual considerations Afroz expresses her perceptions, using classic techniques in a combination of painting and printmaking. Continuing the analysis of past-present-future, the artists work is an intensive process involving gold, silver and turquoise coloration. “These shades are considered as Islamic colours that carry a strong and spiritual meaning,” explains the artist.

Afrozs issues are concerned with a history of centuries of academic and spiritual culture that appear to be for gotten in an environment of primitive violence. Showing work from a series titled, Main bhe Hazara Hoon the artist uses the symbolic hand work in silver. She relates, “We all are Hazaras, those gentle cultured people who are senselessly murdered.”

One of Pakistans earliest printmakers, one has admired the art of Afroz through the years to find that she is working with renewed inspiration in her fight against the  decrepitude of what she sees in the world around her.

Displayed in the exhibition, Naeems aesthetic understanding of line, shape and chiaroscuro (the technique of using light and shade in pictorial representation) create figurative artworks painted in the classic tradition that favours line over colour. Using subtle layers of paint, the artist introduces the adolescent figure of a youth cast adrift in a haunting, textured background that suggests a landscape invisible to the unknowing eye. The youthful subject acts as contrast to the atmospheric paintings that portray the faces of mature subjects apparently floating in space.  These are museum quality paintings.

Naeem is an extremely versatile artist: he was recently awarded top honours for his short film in the Punjab International Film Festival, which one had been privileged to view earlier as part of an installation exhibition in Karachi. The artist is in the process of leaving for Germany where he will participate in a two-month residency before showing his work in an exhibition. Thereafter he plans an extensive tour of Europe.

Sculptor Gull is a remarkably talented artist who is passionately involved in every aspect of his work. Sculpting with wood and metal, each minute detail of every object is placed in position with his own hands. His recent work on display includes a very beautiful wall-based sculpture titled, Paradise. Here one finds the central feature i.e. a coin surrounded by flowers worked in metal that dominate the surface. Above the composition, a face is seemingly meditating on the meaning of paradise. The artist adds subtle shades of blue to the flowers that appear otherworldly.

The vibrant composition offers the theory that to wealthy paradise consists of money. Others dream of a world filled with flowers, while the contemplative man finds paradise in the world around him. lt is a piece of art one cannot resist touching. There is always something new to admire in Gulls work.

He is widely travelled with the experience of residencies and symposiums in Spain, South Africa and in South Korea where he sculpted statues 10 feet tall from the granite stone of the Boryeong Mountains.

Combining the three established talents, the Intangible Concerns display was an extremely interesting exhibition that found the artists using techniques of art with new and original concerns.