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Celebrating Ordinary Souls

Author: Sairah Irshad      Publications: The Herald - Fine Arts (p.125)      Dated: Feb 1987

Exhibition Navigation

When Meher Afroz exhibits, it isnt merely a display- its a happening. And gallery Chawkandis recent exhibition clearly illustrates why. Meher is not a prolific painter.  

She works at her own pace, quietly, unobtrusively. Then suddenly, she delivers. And the wait is always worth it. In this display a collection of prints and acrylic paintings – there is a marked change of form. This is both evolutionary and in instances, revolutionary. Using the mask and the puppet as the theme of this exhibition, Meher has produced a collection of vast diversity and vivid imagery. Having devoted the last two years to a study of the varying universal expressions of masks and puppets, and moulding them into semi-representational forms, Meher has created an entire world, rich in texture and symbolism and evocative of an ethereal timelessness.

Apart from the more obvious use of the mask form, Meher has used a cage-like symbol, representative of the local socio-political framework with its rigid classifications and its moral double standards.

In stark contrast to her earlier work, there is also a novelty in the artists use of colours in this collection. While the tones remain muted, there is now an introduction of greens, blues, deep blood reds and saffrons. But essentially, even now, it is the form that dominates. For Meher, this exhibition posed a certain dilemma. She says “I felt the distortion of figures and the incorporation of sometimes bizarre masks could appear repulsive. While other things worked out, I was afraid of the aesthetic problem created by my chosen theme.”

She neednt have worried. Long before the exhibition officially opened, most of the work had been sold. And the modest pricing of the work (the most expensive being Rs. 2,500) certainly wasnt the only reason why.