Art students get closer to nature at National Art Gallery

Art students on Tuesday got closer to nature inside the National Art Gallery where they learnt an ancient art form using handmade devices.

With over 15 years of experience in the traditional art form, Dr Shahida Mansoor passed on to her students the knowledge of making Japanese colour woodblock printing.

This is a much arduous art technique compared to the European woodblock printing the students had been learning in art schools.

This technique, which emerged out of Japan in the 8th century, is more relevant to the region, she added.

“It involves building your own tools like brushes and your own paper. And unlike the European printing methods, the Japanese colour woodblock printing is more water based without use of chemicals almost the same as the miniature painting where colours are also water based made from natural dyes,” said Dr Mansoor.

Describing it as an ecological form of art, she explained how Japanese colour woodblock printing had inspired painters like Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin and even Rabindranath Tagore and Chughtai in this region.

The students did not just take in printing techniques but also the history of how the art form began in Japan and was done to make impressions of Buddha and write sacred scrolls until the 17th century when landscapes and portraits among various other aspects of life were also depicted in Japanese printing.

The process is lengthy and tiring where young artists have to perform all the tasks themselves and will continue to do so during the five-day Japanese wood block print-making workshop that will continue till Friday.

“Compared to doing prints mechanically, this style of printing is more rewarding because it allows the artist to apply variations and experiment more,” said an art student from Islamabad.

Dr Mansoor, who teaches as an associate professor at the department of architecture and design, Comsats Institute of Information Technology, spent the last seven years improving her skills in the art form.

After receiving her master’s degree in fine arts from Government Postgraduate Women’s College, Rawalpindi, she was offered Japanese Monbusho Government Scholarship to study in Japan. She did her second master’s in fine arts in Japanese woodblock printmaking followed by a PhD from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.

Visual Art Director National Art Gallery Mussarat Nahid Imam said the workshop was part of the ongoing programmes in varied mediums, dimensions and genres of visual arts.

The objective is to encourage art students, artists and art enthusiasts to learn and explore the possibilities a medium could offer.

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