85 artists group exhibition `Mein` : exploration of the self
To celebrate the third anniversary of Koel Gallery, an exhibition titled `Mein — the artist and the self` curated by Noorjehan Bilgrami and Amean J opened at the gallery on Thursday.
Each piece, in one way or another, examines or explores the self. Rest assured there is very little hint of introspection; instead, it is a kind of inquiry and scrutiny which compels artists to speak up (read: express). It would, however, be ill-advised to expect a painter`s own face covered by a straw hat, a la that famous Dutch artist. This is different.
The range and quality of the pieces on view are diverse because of which it takes a fair bit of time to view them with attentiveness. But then a majority of the exhibits are so engaging that even the most concentration-deficient of persons would spend some time looking at them.
A case in point being Asim Butt`s forlorn, vacuously-staring-into-space `Self` (oil on canvas). The redness around the face, the sharp light on the left side of the head and a wide-eyed stare make for a sad picture — sad but true.
Ussman Ghauri`s `Verbal non-verbal` (acrylic on canvas) is also a heartrending piece, open to interpretation but an unquestionable work of a fecund imagination. Along with A.R. Nagori, Asim Butt and Ussman Ghauri are the artists who died in the span of a few years.
Ayesha Vellani with her `Portrait of a Pakistani woman` (digital archive print) smartly contrasts, not juxtaposes, the red flowers in the jholi of a woman against a black and white background, giving an idea of a society she`s part of. This is nicely balanced out by Lali Khalid`s poignant `Between pictures and words` (print on archival paper; laser print on fine art archival). The indistinct figure and the flowers are an evocative work of art, with a keen personal shade — hazy, unclear, yet decipherable.
`Sweet tooth` (digital print) by Mahreen Zuberi and Mohammad Ali Talpur`s portrait (ink on paper — painted over the face and then transformed on paper) takes the concept of the self to a level where deliberate misrepresentation makes sense. Nahid Raza has come up with something different. This time round the artist has treated the `square` as a symbol of power, with strong spiritual connotations.
Sadia Salim tackles the issue of time and space with her installation titled `Third piece`. She puts two time zones (let`s say of Karachi and New York) at a distance and ponders the spells in between.
Amean J, Naireen Zia and Silwat Mumtaz treat their portraits in a defocused manner, but all are different and have a point to make.
Silwat Mumtaz`s `Overlay` (water colours and graphite on wasli) touches on the fuzzy state of mind and Naireen Zia`s untitled work (print media) waters the eyes so as not to give away her self.