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Art work: Painterly chutzpah

13 June, 2013

Art work: Painterly chutzpah

By M. Saeed Kureshi |  | 9th June, 2013

With the onslaught of scorching summers, compounded by the departure of art aficionados for vacations, the going gets tough for the galleries. Notwithstanding the aggravation caused by the rising mercury, the tough ones get going, resolute and unyielding; and showcase atypical works that attract visitors who yearn for a challenging visual confrontation. Circumventing the lean fiscal environment that imperils the art marts, the ArtChowk Gallery, Karachi,  has managed to put together 20 carefully blended works of four artists, which guarantee the visitors an exciting experience for their sensational characteristics.

Curated by Shakira Masood, the exhibition titled, Equal to 4, represents Hasnain Ali Noonari, Habib Phulpoto, Khalid Hussain Soomro and Samrah Roohi in a variety of interesting mediums. The exclusivity of the collection is attributed to the innovative use of modern techniques for artistic fabrication where creativity would know no bounds.

The miniaturised sculpting of Noonari in carved pencils is a remarkable example of using appropriate tooling to capture fleeting imagination and emotional dynamics.
The sensitively carved graphite and wooden shell of four line-abreast pencils; titled, ‘Blind hunt’ speaks volumes about the artist’s skilful workmanship. The gallery has promptly provided magnifying glasses to observe the intricate sculpting which is incredibly impressive.

Noonari has also created three sets of five coins each in which the Quaid’s profile has been painted in oils depicting him as an educationist, soldier, malang, himself and attired in different cultural dresses. These sets portray the artist’s intense desire for national cohesion and fraternity.

The two polyptych works of Phulpoto, ‘Linkage II’ (seven drawings in tea wash and pencil on wasli) and ‘Linkage III’ (two drawings in charcoal pencil and pastel on paper), depict progressive phases of certain events. Like a storyboard, ‘Linkage II’ depicts a lifetime, emulated by a progressively inflating balloon (from one drawing to the next), which finally bursts into smithereens indicating inevitable mortality. ‘Linkage III’, based on two drawings vertically aligned, strictly a diptych, shows five nails with the first one fully out while the fifth nail is completely driven in. The progression of five nails again is like a page out of an animator’s sketch book. The rendering and treatment on both sets are Phulpoto’s unsurpassed acumen which corroborates his senior status among the other exhibits.

Soomro’s ‘Birth of brain’ in oil and acrylics on canvas is a brightly lit painting which oozes with vibrancy despite minimal elements. The wide eyed expressionless face, perhaps of a movie star out of 1940s celluloid, pigmented heavily with bold strokes, bears an uncanny attraction. The eyes work like hypnotic spirals that immediately capture the viewers’ attention drawing them deeper with every passing moment. Soomro believes that ordinary things in life leave deeper impressions and tend to serve as lasting references.

The use of lenticular technology by Roohi is yet another major introduction to the genus of contemporary art of the country. The artist is obsessed with the idea of creating motion in a 2D environment by using the concept referred to as ‘flicker pictures’ or ‘wiggle photos’. The overlay of the lenticular film on images and prints has altered the way art will be regarded and interpreted. The morphing images of Quaid on Rs5,000 bank notes into political leaders, insinuate a message to the latter to follow the footsteps of the country’s founder, particularly in the wake of the current environment of political transition.