Let’s begin by stating the obvious: Masood Kohari is a master artist. The (now) France-based Pakistani sculptor, painter and ceramist is someone who young artists look up to. Therefore it evoked a natural reaction of excitement and thrill when the Citi Art Gallery announced it would hold an exhibition of his work from Wednesday. And the display of the famous artist’s oil-on-canvas work lived up to expectations.
The exhibition has a little more than 20 pieces, and it is difficult to determine which one requires undivided attention more than others. While the medium that Mr Kohari has used is oil-on-canvas, the decent variety of subjects he has touched on, explicitly or in an implied way, is worth taking note of.
At exhibitions, the first exhibit usually proves to be the precursor to the rest of the work. Not here. A remarkable painting depicting a man-bird symbiotic relationship takes the viewer by a pleasant surprise, because on surface it appears that one of the creatures is at mercy of the other, the delectable strokes suggest there is indescribable bond between the two. The theme can be found in a few more pieces.
Then the focus shifts to issues directly related to society, particularly in a modern-day context. There is material that points to the violence that has engulfed the world of late. The viewer can sense the disarray being depicted through fuzzy, swirling lines.
Amidst all of this, Mr Kohari’s work sometimes compels the viewer to forget the content and enjoy the form alone. In one large painting, all of the artist’s protagonists — human figures and birds — are together against a blue background. Again, the strokes, which are not as thick as one usually sees in such works, are applied with frenzy that comes across as controlled or refrained.
There’s a reason for it. His subjects are not irrational beings.
Another dominant theme in the exhibition is to do with ‘masks’ — faces within faces. Mr Kohari does not necessarily mean Janus-faced women or men. It is the multiplicity inherent in intentions vis-à-vis relationships that the artist is trying to hint at, nay talk about. The viewer gets drawn to his work primarily for the faces, and afterwards gets absorbed in the colours, usually not-so-loud, that the artist has splashed onto the canvas to put his ideas across. There is less denseness in them, just as in most human associations.
The exhibition will remain open till March 28.—Staff Reporter