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Let the Sleeping Dogs Lie under way

Let the Sleeping Dogs Lie under way

KARACHI: Although it doesn’t happen very often, especially in our part of the world, symbiotic relationships tend to attract artists’ attention. The reason is simple: artists look at nature and everything that nature manifests itself in as something mutually reinforcing. An exhibition of Shamsuddin’s paintings titled Let the Sleeping Dogs Lie, under way at the Art Scene Gallery, has this very concept at its core.

The artist puts together a child and a dog in his frames. It would be interesting to recall what one associates with dogs and children. Dogs are known for their loyalty to their masters. Loyalty is something that can’t be bought. It doesn’t instantly happen as well. It develops with time. Loyalty extends into friendship, and friends work like a sheltering tree.

Children, on the other hand, are synonymous with innocence. This is something that makes them pure at heart. Shamsuddin brings together a child and a dog in his artworks, creating an atmosphere which makes the viewer wonder about the backstories of the two characters. The question is: are the backstories important? Well, yes and no. Yes, because they provide a perspective on the reasons for the meeting of the two. No, because as works of art they can be, or can also be, seen only in terms of pictorial images intended to evoke a single visual sentiment.

In one image the child is seen resting his hand on the dog, as if trying to comfort the animal. He himself has his eyes half-shut, which suggests that he too is a little weary. This is where the juxtaposition of the pair assumes meaning: the mutuality of consolation.

In another exhibit only the dog is in full view, whereas the other character’s legs are visible. There is disconnection here. But it could only be visual.  

The exhibition concludes on Oct 25.   

Published in Dawn, October 24th, 2017

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