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Portfolio: Intuitive encounter

Portfolio: Intuitive encounter

In the latest work of Moeen Faruqi, mounted at the Canvas Gallery, Karachi, the 20 artworks displayed are totally absorbing. Implications are conveyed through the colouration and composition of the artworks that contain a cast of intriguing, rather seemingly vulnerable subjects. There may be several figures placed in the composition — but seldom do they interact.

Painting metaphorical objects that create a surrealistic scenario, the artist doffs his cap to the painters he admires; there are hints of the mysterious dark doorways of Giorgio de Chiroco; and gazing at the viewer one finds the tabby cat, beloved of Tassaduq Sohail.

Exploring the work one may recognise the narrative of one’s daily life in the busy, diverse and often confusing city of Karachi. Here, created on canvas, the city conveys a story open to personal interpretation. One may question the strange presence of a fish, a cat or a bird; and realists that we are, may also sometimes bring to mind times when we are as out of place on the scene as these aspects of the artist’s work.

Faruqi is an artist, who describes his thoughts, in words as well as paintings. He is a poet, whose work has been published in the UK, the US, as well as in Pakistan. In 1997, Oxford University Press published an anthology titled Poetry from Pakistan, and Dragonfly in the Sun, an anthology of Pakistan’s literature. By profession he is an educationist, involved in schools set up by his family, but the spacious studio in his home is where one is most likely to find him.

Since Faruqi emerged on the art scene with his first exhibition in the ’80s, his work has been shown throughout Pakistan and internationally in Canada, Italy, Singapore, Bangladesh, the UK and India.

In his work he shares his fascination with human faces and expresses his ideas with tone, shadow and colour, he reveals subtle hints of mood with techniques that explore his interests and suggestions.

In the 20 paintings mounted, each has an interesting narrative to be decided by the viewer. The painting ‘95, Jamshed Road’ consists of three people placed together without a unifying factor; each appears to be self-absorbed, unaware of each other.

Describing his work Faruqi says that characters in the paintings have moved beyond creating fiction, the ‘he said’ or ‘she said’ sort of narrative that makes them only imaginary beings. The viewer becomes part of the alternate world, begins to re-invent his or her own self. “Recognition of the figures in the paintings is entrapment within this new realm. The people in the pictures are looking out at the viewer, for affirmation that their lives are not meaningless,” he adds.

Games people play’ is a triptych showing three unconnected subjects. ‘The Jinnah Mazar’ is seen through an open window of a room inhabited by a group of people and unconnected objects suggesting the subjects are equally estranged.

‘Karachi kahani’ is a powerful narrative consisting of nine diverse stories on one canvas. Viewing the work on show is challenging; one explores the scenario and creates one’s own reasoning while discovering a theme that is surprisingly close to life around oneself, but consciously for the most part ignored.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, March 20th, 2016

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