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Art mart: Birds of a feather …

Art mart: Birds of a feather …

Contemporary Art is what the artists living today produce; it stems from Post-modern Art which itself descends from the early 20th century Modern Art. Current artists question the styles and movements that came before them and in the process, create new set of rules for appreciation of the evolving art. To emphasise the significance of contemporary art, an imposing exhibition of 21 artists was recently held at the Mohatta Palace Museum, Karachi.

Amidst the repertoire of exotic works, Asad Hussain’s painting ‘Harmony of justice’ on steel, depicting a motor rickshaw entangled in a downpour of spoons, held the interest of many viewers. The innovative use of scraperboard technique to expose steel through acrylic layers gave the painting a mature character.

Natasha Jozi’s solo art performance ‘I put butter knife to paper’, and a coordinated performance ‘Eating head / Head cases’, by Muhammad Ali, Sara Pagganwala and Shalalae Jamil, remained focal throughout the evening owing to their live and interactive nature. Responding to a question Jozi says, “Desperate consumerism has weakened our perception of history, culture, text, diction and literature.”

Video art works of Muzzumil Ruheel and Aamir Habib added yet another interesting dimension to the show. Ruheel’s video depicted one of the finest letters from Urdu literature, written by Mohammed Ali Rodolvi to his daughter Huma Begum. “The letter has humour, philosophy, emotion and intellect which I feel I must share,” says Ruheel. Habib’s footage titled ‘Embezzle’ depicted a melting ice cream that exposes some familiar landmarks such as the Big Ben-like tower in Mecca, an icon that represents the ravenous business trend. He adds, “We consider our belief to be some kind of an ice cream with a variety of flavours on which we sprinkle any religion and eat it.”

Painted in oils, Muhammad Ali’s ‘Zalim coffee pila dey’, is a marvel of realism. The artist’s skilful handling of colour and anatomy is simply remarkable, the concept of the painting, however, takes the lead. Another awe-inspiring collage work of Ayaz jokhio, titled ‘10 Actors’, reflects the passion of the artist for juxtaposing printed matter to synthesise organic forms. The immediately recognisable actors, drawn with deftness, speak volumes about Jokhio’s versatile aesthetic acumen. Another painting ‘Devi’ by Komail Aijazuddin, framed in heavily carved wood, stood out prominently. The artist has deployed various symbols from ancient art to emphasise the prevalent obliviousness to history.

The impressive event at the Mohatta Palace Museum was sponsored by a multi-national company which is known for its consistent worldwide patronage of art. Furthermore, the presence of Consul General of Switzerland Mr Emil Wyss and his wife added splendour to the selected gathering of art lovers.

The exhibition was curated by the Canvas Gallery, Karachi, under the supervision of Sameera Raja who says, “It is important for corporates to get together and promote art — it is not about selling but creating awareness.”

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, November 22nd, 2015

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