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Displacement Anxieties Opens at Chawkandi

Author: Peerzada Salman      Publications: Dawn– Metropolitan (p.18)      Dated: 10 Apr 2014

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KARACHI: It is astounding how Asian artists have become increasingly extroverted about the socio-political milieu they find themselves inextricably attached to (read: entangled in). Their symbolism is becoming more and more unconcealed, which is a bit of an oxymoron. A fascinating three-person exhibition, lets call it an international show, titled Displacement Anxieties curated by distinguished art critic Niilofur Farrukh opened at the Chawkandi Art Gallery  on Wednesday evening.

The three participating artists are Hojat Amani (Iran), Pala Pothupitiye (Sri Lanka) and Roohi Ahmed (Pakistan).

We all know about the three countries to which these remarkable individuals belong.  We also know about the politically turbulent times their nations have gone through and the issues that they are still trying to come to terms with. So the pictures that these artists are trying to paint on surface dont seem revelatory, especially when the word displacement in the title of the show gives away the notion of unwilling movement. And thats where the beauty of the exhibition lies. Its the discovered land as opposed to the undiscovered one thats being explored here.

Amani gives an interesting twist to the concept of angels. She gives wings to women wearing burqas and veils, just as an intelligent writer gives tongue to unsaid thoughts -thoughts of the readers that they find impossible to articulate.  Yes, the viewer can detect a hint of Irani traditional interpretation of the concept. But the heavily decorated figures in Amanis artworks not just look back in time, they also signify the brightness and extravagance that can become a tangible reality and exists in the form of a dream at the present time.

Pothupitiye uses cartography and the lion thats on the Sri Lankan flag to touch upon the transition that the country is experiencing. The presence of the maritime troubled region Jaffna and the mention of Sri Jayewardenepura are self-explanatory. But the way the artist has turned the maps of these regions into living beings is quite a sight.

Ms Ahmed never ceases to surprise the viewer with her insightful understanding of the differences (economic, social and mural) that assume the form of distances existing in Pakistani society. While her Constellation series (thread on fabric) is no less important, its Fasla I (thread and pigment on fabric) that drives her point home with artistic subtlety.

The show will continue until April 19.