Better Than Ever

DATED: 10 DEC 1996

Entering a new phase of her work, Nahid Raza makes a reaffirmation of an aesthetic commitment to the theme of womens causes. While several interpretations of the work are possible, the form of the imagery and colour used as an idiom, help to elucidate the means by which the artist arrives at a forceful evocation; the total experience of womankind. Indirect undertones of iconography in settings on a miniature scale add pictorial charm.

The artists latest collection is rendered on wooden panels which resembles album pieces or tiles to be displayed in groups of four. Surfaces are etched before painting, incorporating an earlier involvement with print-making. The wooden pieces are first coated with gesso and after a drying period, covered with wax. Nahid then used a fine etching pen to draw out images, mixing, and etching and scraperboard techniques. What occurs is a brilliant marriage of surface and form. Portraying women in numerous roles and different stages of life, persona! References emerge, an intimate involvement with many strands of life. Concern for children, responsibilities, introspection, temporary faltering and the ultimate inherent strength – are all there. Tiny motifs. Doors and windows represent compartments, symbolising a multifaceted life. Rich colouration, blue – speaks of water, endlessly changing form… depth. Red, a power from within, the colour of celebration and also blood. Ochre brings the elements of mother earth, roots, nurturing, sheltering. Metallic shades refer to the art of the Byzantine while deeply etched white lines create tiny paths and rain or tears. A sun appearing as motif symbolises energy, nourishing the soil, bringing warmth. The format, use of space divided by bands of colour, refers to the past, yet the subject and treatment are undeniably contemporary, speaking of the here and now. The exhibition after a gap of four years shows the artist at the very peak of her form.

Nahid came into art circles at a fortunate time. When she graduated from the Central School of Art in 70, the gallery system was in operation, affluent citizens were starting to collect paintings and women had begun to make their presence felt in the art world. In a male dominated society, art was a field in which talented women were accepted on merit. Painting in a very different style to what she does today, she ventured into the realms of abstract expressionism, yet often incorporating figurative elements. As a student her work was exhibited in group shows. There was frustration because her uncle, Ali Imam, refused to give her an exhibition. Undaunted, she turned to a foreign cultural centre in Karachi, and held her first solo exhibition in 1970. In 71, she achieved her ambition to display her work at the Indus Gallery. Since then the years have been full of activity and movement. Encompassing a course of printmaking at the University of Detroit in the 80s, and numerous exhibitions at home and abroad, the late 80s found her beginning the first comprehensive, attempt to portray a womans point of view in a Pakistani contest, a theme she continues to explore. Eminently successful, Nahid has earned a well-deserved reputation for being one of the foremost, modern painters of Pakistan.

This is a marvellous show but dont take my word for it, see it for yourself.