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Urban Longing under way at Sanat

Urban Longing under way at Sanat

KARACHI: An eagerly awaited exhibition of artworks by the renowned British artist, Dom Pattinson, opened at the Sanat gallery earlier in the week.

The event was eagerly awaited because the artist himself was supposed to make a painting on the inaugural day of the show, titled Urban Longing. Sadly, he couldn’t make it to Karachi as his passport was not sent to him on time by a courier service. No worries: the 13 artworks on display are pretty interesting to look at.

The organisers of the show have dubbed Pattinson as a street (read: urban) artist. It is a little injudicious. Here’s why: when the artist was asked by an interviewer what his work usually revolves around, he said though it was generally about evoking a sense of peace, hope and love, he wouldn’t like to be known for a particular theme. He was right. Even a fleeting glance at his mixed media exhibits will reveal that it is not the technique that he employs or the geography that he chooses to work in which matters. What matters is the wide canvas of issues that urge him to indulge in creative pursuits.

‘Stand proud, stand out 1’ sets the ball rolling in a fine way. Animals in Pattinson’s work come across as characters which don’t represent a habitat where ferociousness or feral attitudes have a say. To them there’s an endearing quality marked by objects (some of them vain) that one usually associates with human beings.

One of the most striking exhibits on view, ‘Irrelevant elephant’, strengthens this notion. The rainbow takes the viewer by a surprise, a pleasant one at that. Apart from the established symbolism of a rainbow, especially in the modern-day sexual context, the artist is trying to convey the message of harmony among disparate things. The result is doubly delightful due to the aesthetic vibe that the viewer gets from the artwork.

Pieces like ‘We are what you make us’ and ‘Till death do us part’ are self-explanatory than suggestive. Innocence and associations, respectively, are touched upon in the two exhibits. The fact that the protagonists in ‘Till death do us part’ have their hands in their pockets gives a nice little angle to the whole idea.

Finally, ‘Smells like rain’, for some odd reason, reminds this writer of a famous Nirvana song ‘Smells like teen spirit’. Just a feeling.

The exhibition will be open till March 25.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2016

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