Display at an Exhibition titled Kanchey

Display at an Exhibition titled Kanchey

What is it with street children and the game of marbles? Answer: it’s the moment when one marble strikes the other creating a solid sound, giving the striker a sense of achievement which s/he otherwise doesn’t find easy to feel. That seems to be the theme of artist Raheela Abro’s latest body of work which was put on display at an exhibition titled Kanchey that opened at the Canvas Art Gallery on Tuesday evening.

This is special, rest assured. Ms Abro is playing with the hearts and minds of the viewer. Mind: because there’s a hint of European masters’ realist work which she apparently is taking a cue from — but then, she could also be making fun of them. Heart: because it’s the subject matter which is touchy in a non-sentimental way. The artist wants the viewer to understand the plight of the underprivileged and at the same time doesn’t want to feel sorry for them.

She turns simplicity into complexity of aesthetic delight with effortless ease. In one remarkable untitled artwork (oil and acrylics on marble) she brings together a couple of books, fruit and balls that may not hint at the game of marbles, and creates a striking still image. All three objects are in focus, right there in the foreground. The viewer can’t miss them. What is not easy to handle is how to prioritise these three different things. The artist is leaving that up to the viewer. This means, the viewer needs to empathise with the street children.

Then the highlight of her artistic accomplishment comes in the shape of the untitled piece number 9 (oil and acrylics on marble and plexi glass) in which a banana peel assumes an almost human form, albeit emaciated and crestfallen. Ms Abro is using art to hold up a mirror to life.

Her train of thought enters a semi-surrealist domain with the next exhibit where she becomes fearful by placing a skull alongside a slice of watermelon and a candle that is not lighting the scene, but acting as a spectator. As is the shoe that is placed beside a football and a cricket ball!

The show will run till Sept 25.

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