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Abstruse Imagery

2 September, 2013 

Synergy of diverse talent originating from different corners of the world has been exquisitely put together in the exhibition titled, ‘Abstruse imagery’ by its curator S. M. Raza, comprising works of Kim Yunseob of South Korea, Monica Gallab of Belgium and Anum Rafique and Shahan Zaidi from Pakistan at the ArtChowk Gallery, Karachi.

Raza, a talented young artist himself, was on an art residency in South Korea when he met Yunseob and hatched the plan to have a collaboration of like-minded artists, especially those having exceptional drafting acumen and are boldly inclined to probe the complexities of the human mind. Resultantly, the multicultural expression in the 29 works and an animation video at the exhibition are capable of enticing the most discerning observer owing to their staggering visual impact. The clarity of concept and the vibrant heuristic aura created by the artists also brings a completely new meaning to the interpretation of the inner mind and its unexplored composite layers.

With an obsession to unearth the abstruse secrets of the homosapien’s gray matter, Rafique has chosen to masterfully articulate her skills to depict the labyrinths that haunt the brain’s sensitive demesne. With a refined prowess to cut out silhouettes from paper sheets with precision, the artist reconstructs absorbing montages of her visionary perception.

The deployment of her equally exquisite skills in handling ink and neemrang on wasli, enhance the silhouettes through its tasteful visual vocabulary that is new to this genre of painting. The introduction of embossed surface on wasli for painting also opens the door to numerous possibilities of expression.

Yunseob has chosen to approach the task of demystifying the human brain and its clandestine schemes and conspiracies through his impeccable drawing skills, particularly in graphite. Equally remarkable are his digital prints, especially the ‘Whale Series’ which lament the furtive elimination of nature by ruthless international syndicates.

Yunseob’s cautionary message is that destroying the ecology for personal gains, threatens the extinction of valuable species including the human race. In another painting, the artist depicts human passion by composing a lustful centaur (horse with a human torso as in Greek mythology) with a charming woman riding on its back. The artist’s use of the graphite medium to produce drawings with super-realism which are almost photographic on occasions substantiates his ability to perceive his subjects with clarity and detail. Upon closer examination of the realistic drawings, the treatment of graphite on paper remains sensitive and painterly.

Zaidi, with his powerful ability to visualise, takes control of the brain’s formidable charade of neurons and endeavours to decipher and streamline the embedded forms, fantasies and riddles. Journey into the bizarre perceptions of the human brain through his magnetically absorbing drawings can take away the realisation of fleeting time; however, the curiosity to explore the artist’s next magnum opus generally redeems the viewer.

While Zaidi struggles to shed off the label of digitally reinforced commercial art, the emergence of his empathised surreal work in this exhibition is beginning to identify him as a remarkable painter who has a colossal imagining aptitude.

The interpretation of mundane trivialities of daily routine of humans is the subject of Gallab’s pencil drawings and the animated video. The title of her works ‘Carnes Pampeanas’ attempts to portray the realities of life where most people tend to remain non-productive, stagnated and laggard.

The artist represents the phenomenon of futility and lassitude by drawing people on headless mechanical rodeo mock-ups, getting nowhere, despite the frantic whipping and bucking. Even in the coloured animated video, the woman swimming in the pool tends to remain suspended and immobile notwithstanding the wild wading.

With her powerful rendering technique, Gallab has attempted to unfold the hidden secrets of an architecture woven with mundane brainwaves — the exotic landscape of the subconscious, the forbidden terrain, the beautiful and the grotesque, and the human personality that frequently harbours dark secrets.

Conclusively, the exhibition unleashes a barrage of gripping visual episodes, which at first sight, appear convoluted and bewildering, however, as the eye moves within the framed spaces, a vicarious drama begins to unfold which momentarily transports the viewer into the artists’ uncharted imaginary world, revealing the unseen and the unheard.

The most striking feature of the exhibition is the commonality of the meditative process that has emerged, which corroborates the universality of the visual language. The gallery proprietress Shakira Masood’s initiative to inject foreign talent in the local art scene triggers a healthy fusion between cultural expressions of diverse origin and bolsters the contemplative process of participating artists.