Author: NULL Publications: NULL Dated: NULL
The invitation card to the exhibition of works by Meher Afroz carries a translation of verses from Jalal al- Din Rumi: “One went to the door of the beloved and knocked. A voice asked Who is there? He answered. It is l. The voice said, There is no room for me and thee. The door was closed shut. After a year of solitude and deprivation he returned and knocked. Voice from within asked, who is there? The man said, `lt is thee. The door was opened for him.” Meher Afroz has titled her exhibition of 14 prints and 35 paintings as `Zindan Series` and has used metaphorical language for her expressions. In the light of Rumis verses. Some of the metaphors refer to her personal world of being alone and yet not lonely. Being alone is a world in itself. Her painting in red and black with a woman lying alone in the vastness of the universe is holding a crescent with a thorny wire. That is Mehers world- that is any womans world, in fact, that is any human beings world. Here her thinking can be linked with Fatima Wefai, an Iranian artist, who settled down in Pakistan and is now in Australia completing her Masters in Fine Arts. Fatimas paintings were displayed at Chawkandi sometimes back. She had portrayed women flying kites with thorny wires. Her work was with reference to a certain political climate for women in her country of origin. Mehers work seems to be more with a personal reference. A second painted board by Meher Afroz is in muddy pink and black. lt is a royal dress (Angarkha) worn by the gone by days of Mughal kings and men of high ranks. It is a headless figure, presumably referring to the Indian Muslim glory of the past. Rest of her metaphors concern Lucknow culture, which is no more and symbols from her religious belief. Some of her prints are memories of her childhood expressed through smudged writings, drawings and girlish dresses. Give a black or brown marker to a child and he will draw something similar. This could be her afloat to make prints like the paintings of Paul Klee or early works of Qudus Mirza (a good artist lost to writing articles on the works of other artists). Meher Afroz is a woman with very strong characteristics, which have added a positive dimension to her personality, Her meaningful paintings take some time to he hosted by art galleries. lt took her almost two years to display her works at Chawkandi Art. Her earlier show was also held at the same premises on 16th Nov. 1999. ln that series, she had used the perfectly balanced relationship between the central point and the circle as an allegory. At that time. She said that it was her belief that all humans were born with an instinct of right and wrong. Reinforced by religion and society this instinct built at protective circle of spirituality around them. lt was at that exhibition that Meher Afroz was found as an artist of individual artistic sensibilities. Earlier, she was occupied by works of dabbed prints for more than ten years. She links her present creativity with her past work, saying she was Meher ten years back also as she was today; but she did not realise the emergence of new Meher since the year 1987 when she came up with her first solo exhibition of paintings and etchings. Her figurative paintings were u major departure in her journey from prints to paints. Since then, Meher is exhibiting her artistic sensibilities through colours and forms with a special stress on texture. She equates texture with language. One finds hardly anywhere a smooth application of colour. Wood itself is a living thing. Her paints further enliven its grains. All her paintings at Chawkundi ure on wood, at medium she has adopted for quiet sometime. Mehers paintings are an outcry of her philosophy. They belong to her. lf anybody dare paint like her, cannot refute her influence on his work. Born in Lucknow. Meher graduated in Fine Arts from Government College of Arts and Crafts, Lucknow. She obtained her Art Masters Training Course from Lucknow Government Art College. She has served in the capacity of Senior Lecturer at the Central Institute of Arts and Crafts. Karachi and now is a teacher at Indus Valley School of Art. She won first prize in Graphics at National Art Exhibition. Meher does not find any change in her ideology except the influences of what she gained through experience and observation. She feels that cultural influence of Lucknow is as much a part of her personality as the society of today in Karachi. These interactions with people and society also influence her paintings. She says, “ln the 20th Century, when values are being redefined, words and terminology is also going through a change. So is painting changing with the change of values and terminology. Her present show also includes some prints, which have masked faces and puppet like figures reminding of her past thematic paintings Masks and Puppets. Meher says. “We all have masked ourselves with the unending desires of trivialities and mostly we act like puppets in the hands of our greed. God made man superior to the rest of the creation; but he has become inferior by running after meaningless goals.” Whatever philosophy Meher may have and whatever title she may give to her works, her paintings carry an intrinsic artistic sensibility. Their art value is much above the titles she uses. She is the only artist in Pakistan who paints ugliness of reality and it pleases the eyes.