Individual Context, an Exhibition by Three Young Artists
Individual Context, an exhibition by three young artists, opened at the Rohtas Art Gallery.
Featuring the works of Samina Islam, Salman Hassan and SM Raza, the exhibition explored various dimensions of solitary existences in mediums as diverse as thread on digital photography on canvas, photo etching, screen printing and acrylics on paper.
The range of emotions and sense of desolation explored was fascinating as Salman and SM Raza chose to express the impact of external forces while Samina captured the internal angst of the social taboo.
Salman Hassan and SM Raza explore the idea of emotions evoked by urban space. They work on tiny sheets of paper in monochromatic hues to show urban scenes – buildings and empty spaces.
SM Raza says, “Being a citizen of the urban culture, I realise how we live entirely in our own solitary space, oblivious to the world passing us by. The visuals I have created in different frames are a depiction of emptiness, sadness and isolation that we become engulfed by.”
“My work revolves around emotions evoked by space, isolation and memories. We tend to create a space within a space triggered by emotion. Deepest memories can be brought to surface by the slightest feel of an object, fragrance or even sound,” says Salman Hassan.
Both artists view space, particularly artificially constructed spaces, with a sense of desolation. Urban society has isolated them and emotions and memories are below the surface.
Samina Islam depicts her inner feelings and thoughts about child molestation. She says, “My theme is child molestation and this entire body of work is devoted to this theme. My medium of thread on photography has been inspired by a documentary where the artist worked with thread and canvas and this seemed particularly appropriate for the theme.”
She added, “My work isn’t very literal because I want it to be thought provoking and intrigue the viewer. That said, the central is a young girl and the work embodies her despair and loneliness, as well as her desire to hide.”
In contrast both SM Raza and Salman Hassan are addressing a more pervasive issue, not of violence but of the impact of increasingly atomistic lives and the separation of human beings from other people because of concrete divisions, both literal and figurative.
Rohtas Gallery began in the 1980s in Islamabad with the mission to promote art that could not find a home anywhere else in those repressive times. Over the years, Rohtas has become an institution, featuring some of the most prominent contemporary artists from Pakistan as well as abroad.
Its stated objective was to showcase art which had no support in Zia’s era. Among the artists who exhibited with Rohtas were Zubaida Agha, Zahoorul Akhlaq, Jamil Naqsh, Mussarat Mirza, Salima Hashmi, Shahid Sajjad, Sheherzade Alam and Sallahuddin Mian. Many young artists also commenced their careers in the 1980s at Rohtas including Anwar Saeed, Shazia Sikandar, Quddus Mirza, Naazish Ataullah and Imran Qureshi, a tradition that Rohtas is carrying on to date.
As always, Rohtas has brought together immensely talented artists who have presented varying aspects of isolation within the theme, Individual Context.