She is Courageous, Reviving still life painting at Lahore Art Council

Fourteen still life portraits, exploring the everyday expressions of women, by Syed went on display at the Lahore Art Council on December 2. Syed’s third solo show in her 22-year career was received by artists in Lahore as “surprisingly refreshing work.”

Still life figurative painting is disappearing as an art genre in Pakistan because “new generation of artists prefers using new mediums. It is rare that an artist attempts still life portraits as they can easily expose an artist’s limits.” says art professor RM Naeem.

Artist Farazeh Syed is not one of those. “She is courageous,” say veteran artists Iqbal Hussain and Saeed Akhtar.

Akhtar says Syed’s work is prominent for the subject’s loud expressions. “The eyes are bigger, the sentiments obvious. She is also skillful at defining the subjects,” he says.

Syed, 40, told The Express Tribune that she titled the exhibition Saarahe Aam (The daily way) because of the relationship she shares with her subjects.

“The women in my work are those I encounter in my daily routine. I could have painted men but they are harder to approach,” she said.

Syed, who used oil paints for the pieces, said she had tried to capture expressions reminiscent of the sadness prevalent in the country. Her works were displayed at the Unicorn Art Gallery in Karachi in January. Syed contributed five more pieces before putting on the show at Alhamra. Syed is looking to take her pieces for display in Islamabad next.

Syed attended the National College of Arts for two years (1991-92) before deciding to quit and learn under the supervision of artist Iqbal Hussain. Hussain is famous for painting the plight of the prostitutes of the red light district in Lahore’s Walled City.

After studying still life painting under Hussain, Syed relocated to Ney York City where she attended the Parson’s School of Design and Art Students League.

Syed says most of her earlier works incorporated inks and charcoal but she tried to work with a single medium for this exhibition.

Akhtar, painting women in traditional attire for four decades, says he is impressed with the progress in Syed’s recent paintings.

“The handling of sketches has improved substantially and the expressions of her subjects appear more realistic than earlier,” he says.

RM Naeem says the works are conventional for their medium and style but contemporary in the choice of theme.

“Any experienced artist can tell good work from the one created to satiate commercial demands. Hers was made with the intention to achieve self satisfaction and to do good,” Naeem says.

The exhibition will run till December 8.

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