The presence of the Almighty may manifest itself to different people in different concepts even though we are all aware of its presence.
This is precisely what artist Ali Abbas has tried to convey through his water colour-on-paper paintings depicting the Sufi concept of the Almighty in the form of whirling dervishes and shrines.
Around 40 of his paintings adorn the walls of the Art Scene Gallery in Clifton, where the exhibition of his works opened on Thursday evening.
The exhibition, titled “Haq Maujood (presence of God)”, is supposed to project the presence of God in the collective psyche of all human beings regardless of the faith they may have inherited. In subdued, yet bright colours, these works present the life of the dervishes and the Sufis, and, wandering minstrels with their musical wind instruments like horns and flutes besides their rudimentary kitchen paraphernalia, alongside their unkempt below-the-shoulder hair and their unsophisticated attire.
Abbas indeed is a lyrical colourist and through his painting technique, has captured the spirit of worldly renunciation by the Sufi saints, which is their hallmark. This spirit has been so precisely projected by the combination of colours.
The works are a mix of realism and surrealism because while the saints are depicted in realistic form, the shrines in the background with which these Sufis are synonymous are portrayed in a dream-like, surrealistic fashion to give an overall other-worldly effect.
Talking to The News, Abbas said that painting and art had been his passion since his school days. As for his fascination with Sufism, he said he attributed this to his locale, Hyderabad, where such philosophies were very prevalent.
The interior of Sindh, he said, was dotted with Sufi shrines which, perhaps, accounted for his special interest in the field.
The exhibition was inaugurated by United Kingdom’s deputy-high commissioner in Karachi, John Tucknott. He lauded Abbas’s talent and said that he was looking forward to seeing an exhibition of his works in the UK just as they’d been held in Abu Dhabi, Turkey, and China.