To say that man is a social animal is not even an understatement; it is one of the most hackneyed expressions used by writers and artists to bring forth the myriads of contradictions that man contains within himself. Having said this, perhaps there is no other and more effective way of suggesting that one should accept man, warts and all. A two-artist show titled ‘The Social Animals’ opened at the Koel Art Gallery on Thursday. The participating artists Muzzumil Ruheel and Irfan Hasan, using media that suit their purpose best, through their artworks have adopted a no-nonsense approach to put their spin on the whole social animal concept.
Let’s discuss Mr Hasan first. The artist has a knack for satire, rest assured. His works appears a little off-the-wall in a charming way. He bloats his subjects up, makes the viewer look at them as if they’re looking at a larger-than-life picture and subtly makes him realise that what he (viewer) is seeing is a snide remark on human foibles. A case in point is Unidonk (gouache on paper). As can be gauged by the title, a blending of two creatures has taken place to create a particular effect — an imaginary being representing grace becomes part of an animal that has an ungainly image — it is a kind of juxtaposition of opposites.
Mr Ruheel smartly plays with Urdu phrases and using textual resonance produces noteworthy visuals. His artworks too are marked with satirical overtones and direct commentaries.
He begins with Bheegi Billi (ink on paper) and moves on to Ullu Ke Patthey (ink on paper) and Ullu ka Patha (ink and acrylic on paper). The latter two artworks may sound like humour-laden messages. They are not. The singular and plural nouns signify individual and group outlooks on life. The term ullu ka patha has a derogatory ring to it, but the artist has imparted an ontological touch to it. Or so it seems.
With Makhiyan (ink on paper), Mr Ruheel makes his intentions clear. A closer look at the flies will reveal the flip side to the ostensibly harmless insect.
The exhibition will continue until March 10.