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As & when it happens

13 April, 2013

Operationalising contemporary dialectics through art & media

By Andaleeb Rizvi

KARACHI: A group show ‘As and when it happens’ concluded at ArtChowk The Gallery on Friday.

All three artists, Syed Muhammad Raza, Farrukh Adnan, and Abdullah Qamar worked on contemporary themes that are very much related to life in the metropolitan city, struck with strife, fluidity of morals and absurdity of the mundane. Raza and Qamar graduated from the Visual Studies Department, University of Karachi, while Adnan graduated from the National College of Arts, Lahore. 

“Three young men with diverse concepts and strong individual voices, but their art has similarity in the execution itself,” these were the accompanying comments by curator Shakira Masood. 

Previously Raza had worked on amputated human bodies, however this time the artist shifted his attention to digital prints, mostly in monochrome with a couple of installations, His work is a comment on the constantly changing dynamics of our times, the dual and diverse meaning of words and perhaps the variability of technology.

“A word could be a complete statement, a perfect dialogue or the whole narrative itself, especially in the era of minimalism and ‘breaking news’ syndrome; where a line can explain an entire story, a word has meanings within a meaning and story within a story,” said Raza.

He said he believes in looking at the other side of the coin rather than the visible side. Perhaps this is the reason; variability is a recurring theme in his works. In ‘Peace - edition 1 of 3’ he rendered the fragile and digitised concept of peace in fragments, which fall off the edge.

Continuing with his experimental works in mixed media, ‘Story within a story’ is a digital installation of moral standards in mdf wood, acrylic and lights. Using ink and marker on paper, he created one of his best works, ‘White’ where the absurdity as well as philosophical complexity of opposites, is strikingly startling. The artist has simply written white with a black ink marker on white paper, which explains the unity of the opposites.

‘Question mark’, digital print on paper is the culmination of his work. A comment on democracy (Jamhoorate) written in Urdu, that ultimately is reduced to sand (rate). 

If Raza’s work was startling, Adnan’s work was stark. Continuing his obsession with lines, he used ink on canvas, ink on archival paper and copper wire on board. 

“A line isn’t only a mark. It contains a lot of meaning, an abstract vocabulary and various perceptions,” said Adnan about his work.

The harshness of lines remains consistent in his art work, be those lines rigidly made from wire in ‘Untitled I’ and ‘Untitled II’ or as static lines from a television set, like in ‘The Time Circle’. His work reminds one of the timelessness of corrosion. The artist claimed his work is a silent conversation and dialogue between himself and the lines he creates. “My entire practice is about experiencing the language of lines and to create a bridge towards the unseen,” revealed Adnan.

Raza, Adnan and Qamar’s works have many similarities, despite that the artists have trained in different cities. 

‘Creation of Adam and Eve’ installation sculpture made with iron and black ink on Canvas by Qamar, is the culmination of his thought process, or perhaps a symbolic representation of the beginning of an end. The monochromatic installation, ying-yang of cosmology encased within the Adam and Eve concept since the time of recorded history, draws on to Hegal’s contradictory implications of both preserving and changing and eventual transformation - Leading us to the next installation in mixed media on mdf board, titled, ‘Transformation’. The installation, a straightforward frame of an activity frozen in time boasts props like a television set, two wooden chairs and the backdrop of a painting. The frame within the frame again reminds the person of the quality and magnitude, or quantity, which determinates and preserves the concept measure, operationalising contemporary dialectics. 

The show was a monochromatic delight ‘as and when it happened’.