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Counting with Colours

Author: Shamim Akhter      Publications: Daily News - Week. Mag (p.3)      Dated: 3 Dec 2005

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An exhibition of miniature paintings by Khadim Ali opened at Chawkandi Art on 29th November to last until 5th December 2005. Thirty miniature paintings by Khadim Ali at Chawkandi are a departure from his early work on Budha of Afghanistan. On these vaslis he has come out of the spell of his teacher Imran Qureshi. Thick strokes of a painter are obvious on Alis vaslis. Intelligently he weaves delicate designs on and beneath these thick applications. As he works on a theme, his thick strokes play a referential role on his canvases. He weaves his stories around new counting order. To teach counting to toddlers, he has replaced “l apple for I grenade and “2 Pencils for 2 Guns”. ln the New World Order everything has changed its context and appearance. He creates a new teaching method to befit the New World Order. With Miniature as Major, Alis current works are decorated with thick strokes of a painter, numerical, leaves and Persian calligraphy besides grenades and guns.

A little more than a year ago in 2004, the new graduate held his solo show at Chawkandi under the title “Jashne Gule Surkh”. Earlier his works were included in a group show at Canvas, Karachi. He has also participated in group exhibitions held at Dubai, japan, Lahore and Islamabad.

Miniatures by Khadim Ali at his first solo at Chawkandi brought an essence of his diverse backgrounds to the show. Khadim, born in Quetta, hails from Afghanistan and has ancestral links with Iran as well. He received his academic training in the tradition of miniature painting at National College of Arts, Lahore. Then he went back to Quetta. With miniature as base, Ali had expressed his personal vocabulary with elements of Iranian miniature on his vasli. Past tragedy of martyred Buddha in Afghanistan at the hands of the Taleban was a point of desecration for his work. His ancestral village was close to the remains of the Bamiyaan Buddha.

At his first appearance Khadims vaslis were close in appearance to the early works of his teacher lmran Qureshi, as far as dividing his spaces with hair thin lines from one to another metaphorical points was concerned. And the eye could not ignore a multi leafed flower like chrysanthemum as a motif which was an obvious character on Imrans vasli. (Fortunately Ali has done away with that now). But Khadims concerns were different. Consciously, he was under the spell of the propaganda drummed on electronic media on the martyrdom of Buddhas statue at Banyan by the Taleban ignoring the killing of so many innocent citizens. Works of painters are more an outcome of the unconscious than conscious. With his hair thin lines, Ali pointed out targets of terrorism as fragile as flowers and as sensitive as religious feelings and as precious as human life on his vaslis. An image of a bearded old man with grey locks, which traditionally was thought to be a holy man, was no more holy and worth an arrow in the eye under the New World Order. Global directions on his vasli, again, were a comment on international issues. He worked on a very critical line, amalgamating propaganda and art on his canvases. The artist in him was superior to a mere young man carried away by what he was fed through the media. Now based in Karachi, Alis current canvases at Chawkandi seem to breathe in a free world expressing what he thinks of the New World Order: He is counting colours of a rainbow that has emerged from the bloodshed of innocent children and citizens.