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Art beat: Intriguing and ambiguous fusing

21 June, 2013 

Art beat: Intriguing and ambiguous fusing

By Marjorie Husain |  | 16th June, 2013

The art of Omar Farid is so distinctive that the images stay with one long after the initial encounter in exhibition. There one discovers a diversity of issues suggested in an intriguing and ambiguous fusing of optical effects. The artist’s work mounted at the ArtChowk Gallery, Karachi, dazzles (often bewilders) the viewer with bright geometric lines and shapes that challenge one’s visual perception.

Flying Solo is the title of the display and since his student days with Ali Imam at the Central Institute of Arts and Crafts (CIAC), Karachi, Farid has impressed one as a ‘loner’, a highly talented individual being searching for ‘answers’ to unanswered questions. As he states, “I paint at whim … impulse wills me, instinct guides me, passion powers me ….” It was the distinguished artist and scholar Nasir Shamsi who encouraged Farid in his youth.

As an art student, Farid admits that he tried Imam Sahib’s patience to the utmost. He found the initial studies tedious and blurted out his boredom with landscape and still life studies. He was on the brink of expulsion from CIAC, until he discovered a style of art that created optical effects and filled him with excitement. He avidly sought out the work of Victor Vasarely and Bridget Riley and began an involvement that won Ali Imam’s approval.

One remembers Farid’s work at that time, a singular approach that juxtaposed nuances of classical miniature imagery with the black and white contemporary curves of optical illusion. He took the words of Bridget Riley to heart: “For me nature is not a landscape, but dynamism of visual forces …”

Viewing the artist’s stunning work, I questioned the title of a painting: ‘8106-9108’, worked on ink and acrylic on board. Farid explains, “It had to do with the numbers 1,0,8, which can be reversed without losing identity, and number 6 which reversed becomes number 9 and vice versa, while numbers 23457, cannot be played with.”

The painting titled, ‘Gestalt’ began as a shape resembling body organs, but while working on the acrylic piece, he began to muse on his admiration for Zubeida Agha which led to a profusion of playful coloured objects softening the original concept.

‘Montmatre 1982’, encapsulated the artist’s first memorable visit to Paris, where in the artist quarter, an artist tips his hat to passing ladies while his friends stagger under the weight of canvases while helping him to change studios. There is a painting inspired by the novel Grand Hotel by Vicki Baum that the artist read at the age of 13.

Outstanding in a display of (for this scribe) mind-blowing, unique and highly personal artworks, one discovers a large-scaled, marvellous expression of the artist’s uncertainty of life in general titled, ‘Fuition’. Here in a border of bright strong lines is a beautiful, winged woman, looking down with a tantalising expression upon the decaying pyramids and effigies of long gone pharaohs. Down below a small, seemingly metallic figure carrying tools looks up pleadingly at Lady Luck, who playfully bounces good fortune up and down but always out of reach of the hopeful oddity.

Farid is an artist who is totally taken up by art, thinking about it, experimenting, expressing his feelings and documenting perceptions. His exhibition consisted of a collection of 27 mixed media artworks, each one speaking volumes; but as the artist exclaims; “I just paint them and leave the psychoanalysis to others.”