Waseem’s Paintings at Chawkandi

Author: Shamim Akhter | Publication: Daily News - Weekend (p.3) | Dated: 16 Oct 2004

An exhibition of 32 exquisite miniature paintings by Waseem Ahmed, a Lahore based artist opened at Chawkandi Art on 5th October. The displays were executed on Wasli with Tea Stains, Ink and Watercolour. A part of his paintings were based on his personal experiences as a newlywed (four works) that he titled as Male Desire. His eleven paintings were based on his observations of the slow process of dying that his mother is facing currently. Waseem titled these eleven works as Slow Death (ln the love of my mother). The rest of the show included landscapes and his forte- Krishna Series.

Fortunately Waseem has not drifted away from his miniature painting into other fields of interests. lt is the fourth time that he is showing his miniature in Karachi, now as a solo artist. Viewing Waseem’s paintings is best enjoyed with the help of a magnifying glass. Through it one sees the intricate and minute details of the jewellery worn by Lord Krishna and other mini motifs. One feels the glow of pearls and diamonds through a magnifying glass. The thinness of scarves and see-through dresses can best be judged the same way. Waseem is among the very few budding miniature painters who are pursuing their subject with patience and persistence. Usually female artists have the patience and fortitude required for miniature painting. Not surprisingly the number of male students taking miniature as major subject is dropping as compared to female artists. Waseem was a lone male in a class with eleven female students.

Waseem‘s paintings are a satirical comment on our society and current affairs. He also ridicules the past glory and depicts situations that have evolved with the passage of time in the present day society. He tries to create parallels of past and present. He brings forth the change the concept of woman has undergone over the years. He paints Radha in tight trousers and top leaning on a traditional pillow shooting at Krishna with a rifle, whereas Krishna’s thinking has not changed since Adam’s landing on earth from heavens. As we saw at Chawkandi in 2001 and then at Clifton Art Gallery in 2003, so do we see in his current show at Chawkandi that his forte remains Radha and Krishna.

Radha has dissociated herself from her culture and is in modern attire whereas Krishna is in his old self. To win her heart, Krishna adopts various guises but Radha has no time for him. Waseem says that his paintings mirror present day Pakistani society that has moved away from its cultural nexus and is in a state of transition becoming a mixture of east and west.

Waseem’s series on `Slow Death’ is very personal and yet recognizable as one often sees old people on deathbed with poked in needles, drips and blood bottles hanging on their bedside. Waseem has worked well on the subject painting diseased lungs, heart and other parts of body as his mother suffers from one to the other part every day. He also says it poetically by painting a fall ridden tree with leaves drifting away one by one. His paintings depict the helplessness of the caretakers as well as the agony and pain the patient goes through.

Haiderabad born Waseem Ahmed qualified as a miniature painter from National College of Arts, Lahore, in 2000. His thesis work was displayed at his Alma Mater as a solo artist in 2000. He participated in a two-person show at Art Shart Gallery, Lahore in 2001 and Victoria Albert Museum, London in 2002. Earlier, he took part in group exhibitions at France, Katmandu, Rishiki Art Gallery, Mumbai, and I.I.C Art Gallery, Delhi, India 2001 and Athens and Worsa in Greece 2001, Canvas and Chawkandi at Karachi, Sim Sim Art Gallery, and Ejaz Galleries, Lahore; Rohtas Art gallery, Islamabad and Haiderabad Arts Council and Sindh Education Trust, Haiderabad have been displaying his works in group shows over the past one decade. Besides painting miniature, presently Waseem is teaching miniature at Hunarkada Art Institute, Lahore.

Before joining National College of Art, Lahore, Waseem was a drawing teacher at Somi Centre, Haiderabad l996- 97. Earlier he had served as textile designer in Fateh Textile Mill Haiderabad for six month 1995. He took to painting when he was in seventh class. Under the circumstances, when he joined NCA, he calculated that he already knew how to paint and draw. He decided to take up something where he could fully exploit his capacity of hard work. He found that in miniature.