Life Lines

DATED: 2 MAR 2000

An artists style of drawing can be as individual as his handwriting. Serious an collectors often prize an old masters drawings above his paintings as many masterpieces were painted with the help of assistants in the studio. Leonardo Da Vinci was quoted as saying that a great drawing was not only a science, but something to be revered. A.R. Chughtai left a legacy of hundreds of exquisite drawings, while Sadequain was seldom seen without a pencil between his long fingers. Many distinguished art teachers fear that the mastery of line is a dying art. Mansur Rahi recently exhibited his drawings at the Art Gallery where whilst pointing to strongly drawn figures of horses, and proud roosters, he explained these were intended as an exercise for the students. Worked in charcoal, with the ease of the maestro, Rahi created tonal variations and volume. Musical instruments, another favourite motif symbolizing peace, were also the subjects of drawings. Always fascinated by the mountains of the northern regions, Rahi had drawn mountains and rocks in his inimitable Cubist style, turning the forms into giant, mountain men. Seated with benign authority, or standing tall, the mountains looked down to the surrounding lands with territorial dignity. Addressing the students, Rahi referred to the exhibition of sketch books belonging to Picasso, exhibited in 1988 at the Royal Academy, and explained how the fragmented images were used by the great artist as an ideas bank, to be inducted in later paintings.

At the Chawkandi Art, drawings of a different kind revealed artist Samina Mansuri in a celebratory mood. Light, deft, spontaneous, finely delineated lines leapt from one surface to another, taking the eyes of the observer dancing around the gallery. These paper works are the fruit of a recent, three-month residency Samina spent in The Gasworks in London, a lively artists workshop, fitted with studios and attended by a number of artists from different parts of the world. Samina, the first artist from Pakistan to be invited, was approached by The Gasworks directors after they saw her work in exhibition in India. For the cerebral artist, the residency offered the opportunity to discuss aesthetics with like-minded artists, and work in a stimulating and congenial atmosphere.

The subtle penetration of fine dark strokes sets the carefree free grey lines into invigorating, organic motion. While continuing the agenda of earlier work, the sequence of reed pen and ink drawings elude stylistic categorization. Freed of customary association, the work is sculptural in effect, taking unexpected directions. Here is an artist moving into a new, exciting direction where contemporary art attitudes are examined in the light of international aesthetic progression. The artist explains that she aims for a work that has multiple implications. lt is about asking questions and holding contradictions. …”lt is difficult to speak specifically of the work as it has ambiguities, and that leaves it opens for people who look at the work to think and make their own connections”. …Most important, just enjoy them.