An image can strike you in a place that you never knew existed. You may register a face on a canvas, but your mind may see something entirely different. Meher Afrozes exhibition at the Chawkandi Gallery was an enchanting, strange experience. While it was no surprise that, yet again, the trappings of primitive art were used as a metaphor for the subconscious. Mehers work has a peculiar magical charm that lies not in her rigid, primitivist images, but in her seductive, dreamlike surfaces. One has to peer closely at her pictures until the line, the face and the image yield other experiences. There are glimpses of brick-orange, yellow sandstone and purple dreamscapes. There are traces of arid Red lndian plains, South American ruins and disorienting atmospheres. ln and out of the subconscious, backwards and forwards through elusive surfaces, Meher manages to sustain a limbo and a tension that is all poetry and no words. ln Mehers paintings, texture becomes image and text with the power to conjure up other realities, without the closure or the specificity of illustration or words. ln this sense, her work is pure painterly abstraction. Mehers work insinuates itself into the mind, as it courts the subconscious. She has been able to do this, perhaps, because of her own struggle with buried feelings and instincts. Only the sensitive viewer will pick up her perfectly crafted invitations to fly off into the realm of the imagination. Mehers exhibition is not an indication of an artist finding her roots in any particular culture of the world. lt is instead, one of the finest expressions of artistic temperament itself: it withdraws from the outside world to a world that exists within all of us. A flirtation with the collective unconscious, pre-civilisational murmurings or mysticism – call it what you will, Pakistan has found in the work of Meher Afroze an art of international significance.