Non-Commissioned Portraits and Landscapes by Ayaz Jokhio

It is no mean feat to push boundaries in any field, leave alone art because it implies swimming against the tide and doing what one feels like doing. Sometimes financial and social challenges make artists buckle under pressure and create art that doesn’t often come from the heart (though that doesn’t put any limitations on creating quality stuff). It is when painters, sculptors and writers free themselves from such compulsions that they are usually at their creative best. An exhibition of renowned artist Ayaz Jokhio’s works titled ‘Non-Commissioned Portraits and Landscapes’ commenced at the Canvas Art Gallery on Tuesday. The show signifies what goals a talented person can achieve once he cuts, or is allowed to cut, loose to give vent to his feelings.

The most striking thing about the exhibition is the ‘atmosphere’ that Ayaz Jokhio has created through his double-sided gouache-on-wasli artworks which function as two sides to a coin. They are portraits and landscapes which have been made with a free spirit. Yet the standout feature of the exhibition is the gloominess that the artworks are suffused with. The artist very perceptively extracts the best out of the medium. The greyness is symbolic in terms of the murkiness of issues that individuals as well as society as a whole faces in life.

The landscapes that Ayaz Jokhio creates are not green or fertile. They are dreary. In ‘The Tree’ he shows one tree with leaves and the other barren, as if autumn-stricken.
Both trees are in the foreground to give the impression that they are the focus of attention. They are not. It’s the vastness of a sad sky and tufts of clouds that make the viewer identify with them on another plane. The artist’s subject is the distance of the real landscape from his eyes.

The portraits, on the other hand, are explicit in nature. They depict characters which are taken from everyday life and it is their perfunctory routine that has made them look sullen. ‘The Barber’ and ‘The Tailor’ may have two sides to their being (or work) but the monotony of their existence appears to be difficult to get rid of.

In the exhibit ‘The Actress’ the subject looks off-kilter without being irritable and on the flipside a bit deranged. Again, the issue of being distant, this time psychologically, from the artist’s view comes to the fore. And this is where the artworks impress the viewer big time.

The exhibition will run until May 23.


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