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The Mystery of Self-Exploration

Author: Hameed Zaman      Publications: NULL      Dated: NULL

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Samina Mansuri is a new voice, an opening of a new chapter. Perhaps a new artist is emerging in a big way, dominating the art scene for quite some time to come. She operates on a cerebral level and explores herself in her inner landscape. Samina is shaping her art into brutally honest and candid expressions. She skins herself alive and then rips open her physiological identity and dips her finger to haul up her entangled roots and entrails, dripping with blood and fertility juice sprouting weeds marine organism and an ambiguous bushy substance which, though looks simple, is indeed intriguing.

The third exhibition of Saminas oils on canvas, opened at Chawkandi Art with her refreshing creations which she was working on since the last two years. To create a sort of “retrospective”, she has included some of her old work too, indicating her journey from 1992 onward.

The drama of human conditions particularly of female species is her dominating theme where she opts to expose all the Jacks-in-the-boxes under the search lights. There, she searches her childhood youth and even her old age, mixing past, present and future in a single sweep, telescoping time as she pleases with a single surgical cut. She even picks up her umbilical cord. Francis Bacon, the celebrated British painter once remarked “We are potential carcasses. Whenever I go into a butchers shop, I always think it surprising that I wasnt there instead of the animals.” This he said in the total disdain of conventionalism. Samina is very much there, slaughtered like an animal, observing herself being torn into pieces. Perhaps she works not in a studio but in an operation theatre.

Thus, by dissecting the body and pulling out all the stuffing, she brings out as much biological visuals as they are metaphorical, to formulate her newly discovered vocabulary, she carefully prepares a zoological and botanical mix to capture a new reality of feminine predicament. She, thus, fashions visual images which clash with the usual concepts of realistic representation an which evoke a sensation of subterranean existence where she juggles with time and space with the prescribed circumference.

In the perpetual darkness of the human body and its restless soul, anything could happen. Here the circular movement of inward journey leads to an unknown destination that makes the journey paradoxical. Despite movement any one starting from one point finds him again at the starting point. lt seems she turns on herself during this journey relishing the experience of existentialist dimension.

The repertory of her images of skeletal structures are intricate yet beautiful like the X-ray film under the red light in the dark room. The sprawling roots in the internal landscapes, as in the developing dish, emerge messy and bushy, all intertwined like threads and rather secretive with an overwhelming sense of the intimate and private. It looks as if she self -obsessed. Her in-depth mission of self exploration is like peeling the layers; and the overlapping of images is an attempt to find a complex and hidden meaning of the Self. A more abstract self-discovery process is to be found through sufistic paths_ an exercise which Samina perhaps experienced in the Buddhist caves of China.

However, in the repertory of cyclic perception, it is not just a circular movement but there is a design in the movement which unifies the motion. In her latest work, the unity of complex composition is achieved through repetitive linear images which help build the structure. They are spontaneous and well balanced. The pattern of interlocking tubular life-giving spongy balls provides both supportive and unifying designs merging into a united whole. Thus, she skilfully creates a perfectly structured space and evokes a sense of tension. There is an illusion of movement as sequence of motions develop into a momentum every beat counter- thrusting, paddling and boosting the motion.

In one of Saminas paintings, twisted thorns jumble around the tubular funnel standing at the mouth of a dark cave-like space. This phallic image dominates the inner landscape of introspective visuals, an expression of tender distress of a growing woman who is oscillating between the known and The Unknown, Trembling at the first step of fertilised hope and despair, right and wrong are the weapons of her resistance. In this way, the painting is intensely autobiographical, shrouded by memories, this is her intense moment of the meaning reflecting the sensitivity of personal significance.

She calls her thorns and roots her Mandala, the reminder of a visit in 1993 to the cave of Thousand Buddhas in China. The cave is unlighted and one has to see these series of Buddha in candlelight. This eerie experience of self-enlightenment reminds one of an episode in the “Passage to India”, by E.M. Foster, where an English lady enters into a South Indian cave and undergoes an entirely dissimilar experience of horror and confusion, an oriental spiritual thrust which was too much for her. Samina seems to have assimilated that experience to no matter what degree. Oriental responses are different to spiritual responses. She is assailed with her own memories. A moment which took her to the Zero hour of her birth the umbilical cord being cut with the cold touch of a sharp surgical instrument. A sharp cry as she arrives in this world. Since then she is searching for that severed link.

Samina is cutting, dissecting and peering and also attempting to solve the mystery of self-exploration. She is cutting trees, apples, pomegranates, human bodies and spilling blood only to enrich the tonal values. The new aesthetic has been discovered. It has come to stay. It is questioning, exploring, discovering and exposing. It is unconventional; the other side of the picture. Perhaps the darker side of the moon. Here even paintings become sculptures as meaning of the meaning dawns upon the human comprehension.

Saminas path is eternal. There is no end to her Journey.