10th Emerging Talent 2012

They may be young but their work does not lack depth, rest assured. It was such a pleasant surprise witnessing the creative output of students of more than a dozen prominent art institutions of Pakistan on the opening day of the 10th Emerging Talent (2012) exhibition at the VM Art Gallery on Monday.

One of the most startling examples of audacious artwork is the very first exhibit on display. It’s called ‘In Sheep’s Clothing’ (acrylic on canvas) by Rabia Ayub from NCA, Rawalpindi. The meaning of the English phrase has been smartly used to express an idea which has more to do with the physical aspect of the ‘wolf’ rather than the scheming, psychological characteristic. The referred-to clothes assume a different connotation when the viewer looks at the uncovered undergarment.

Imran Soomro’s juxtaposition of the present-day phenomenon of social networking websites with the past, especially with respect to art, titled Facebook (digital print on peneflex) provides an idea as to how the contemporary creative mind thinks vis-à-vis history.

‘A Dream Catcher’ (acrylic on canvas) by BNU Lahore’s Pratima Thakali is a lovely illustration of a young person’s dreams enabling him/her to splash colours on the canvas of the imagination, despite not knowing whether the dreams will come true or not. The city by the night in the background and a young girl in the foreground lying down with a racquet and a gramophone not too far from her is great to look at.

Tazeem Anwar’s treatment of the travel document, passport, moves away from the socio-psychological themes and imparts a political angle to the exhibition. There are quite a few passports with different titles, one of which is called ‘Chamchey’ (mixed media on vasli). Another is named ‘Jo Tu Wo Main’. The satire is more than understandable.

Sara Najum’s untitled (acrylic paints, MDF wood board) brings back the display to the personal premise as the convolution of the artist’s thought process can be detected, albeit subtly, with the repetition of a contracted word ‘can’t’.

Perhaps no other exhibit has more air of pain and misery about it than ‘Qubool Hai’ (pen on old paper) by Sundus Tariq from NCA Rawalpindi. It is a work of art laden with predicament. The redness on the protagonist’s face, regardless of the filmi vibe, contrasted with the greenness of the attire is an eye-catcher. When the viewer gets to know that the next exhibit, a poem (oil on digital print) is also by the same artist, the dots of the story are connected without much hassle. The first four lines of the poem read:

Clothe me in red
The colour of your lust
Let it run from my every pore
Till I am reduced to dust.

Shafqat Ali Kambrani’s Chair (currency coins on wood) is a self-explanatory take on the nexus of money and politics. What makes it special is the hand (palm facing up) resting on the chair. It is open to interpretation. Shafqat Ali is from the Centre of Excellence in Art and Design, Jamshoro.

Then there are a few pieces in which the artists have raised questions in unequivocal terms, such as one by Mohram Ali from NCA Lahore in ‘Are We Not’ (gouache on vasli). IVSAA’s Fariha Nasir Hassaan hurls the query with ‘X’s Room in Sky’ (acrylic and pen on paper) but at herself, and in a remarkably imaginative way. The room that she’s drawn looks real and illusory at the same time.

Special mentions must also be made of a KU student Adnan Mairaj Malik’s Kaak Mahal (digital print on light box) and ‘Hype’ (oil on canvas) by Punjab University’s Irum Naeem.

The exhibition, with 160 odd pieces on display, will run till Feb 11

The V.M’s mission for the promotion of visual arts in the country reaffirms its commitment of social and cultural activities by taking the lead in introducing young talent, and by supporting the emerging art genres.

An idea developed by Gallery Director Riffat Alvi in 2003 to exhibit fresh graduate work of Fine Arts from all over the country; show casing their creativity under one roof, had been a first in the country; a sort of exhibition that had a dual purpose; to provide a venue to the graduate; to highlight different bodies of artwork, to be able to compare different levels of instructions being imparted in our art institutions and also to catapult the emerging artist into the mainstreams of art activities.

With collaboration from the Head of Departments of Fine Arts from art colleges and universities on a national level, a large body of work in painting, sculpture, ceramics, digital and installation art is show cased to a local audience. Having completed its seventh season, this exhibition has remained a very special annual event as it is the high light of the VM‘s yearly calendar, with both seasoned and young upcoming collectors who often anxiously wait for such a show, or some simply visit see a visual array of art under one roof. This particular event is a significant achievement by an art gallery for the promotion of young talent in the country at the same time maintaining the strict guideline.

The Emerging Talent Exhibition receives much publicity in terms of print and electronic media in the local press, as well as great reviews by the critics.

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