April 26 marked the opening of Let Hope Live, an exhibition of 27 paintings by Tabinda Chinoy at the Canvas Gallery.
Chinoy is a painter and a sculptor, whose work has been exhibited in New York, London, Beirut, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai and Singapore, as well as all over Pakistan.
An elegant woman, dressed in black and white at the opening, Chinoy speaks with a quiet reserve, but just beneath the surface one can sense a soul engaged in thought and reflection over a lifetime of experiences.
“My father was in the diplomatic service, so I travelled all over the world,” shared Chinoy. “I was exposed to the art and culture of many different countries, and I always had an interest in the arts. Of course, at that age, I didn’t have the confidence, but my father always encouraged me.”
On her website, Chinoy describes her art as a reflection upon the ideal world: “I believe in the aesthetics and marvels of nature. I am a dreamer. My canvas is a mirror to the different periods one may experience to reach the safe havens of contentment, serenity and inner peace. Seeing women in states of ennui or emotional paralysis has been the impetus of my painting style: A flourish of brush strokes inured to turmoil, conflict, human poignancy and innovation. A dreamer, striving for perfection through the visualisation of fantasy.”
Describing the body of work currently on exhibition Chinoy said: “If you lose hope, you lose life. You go into depression, you are nothing.
“Being a woman, I feel for other women, especially those from this part of the world. I want them to be liberated, and be able to practice whatever skill they have — even if it is just stitching and sewing.”
Indeed, most of the work depicts female figures deep in thought. Symbols of hope are worked into most paintings, a green leaf bursting to life on a bare tree shadowing a pensive woman, a dove on the shoulder of a woman who is otherwise immersed in darkness. Windows the background open up to visions of blue skies and freely flying birds, all one must do is turn around and step into the light.
The cityscapes depict utopia — a harmony and peace that enables a mosque to stand beside a church, and a mud hut beside a high rise.
Chinoy also comments on Pakistan’s multi-cultural society in her work. Some of the pieces depict bearded men in turbans and veiled women.
“They are not angry or aggressive. They are thinking, and are firm about their own beliefs. I am not passing a verdict on them. In their own way, they are right.”
An expressionist, Chinoy works with a mix of acrylics, oils and water colours. Her use of vivid non-naturalistic colours reminds one of the fauvists of the early twentieth century.
Chinoy is a master visual story teller. Her work has been published in The Dreamer Awakes, a book of poems and paintings. Chinoy’s paintings complement Beo Zafar’s beautiful poetry, visually describing the subject matter of each poem. Another book on Chinoy’s art is in the works, but details haven’t been revealed yet.
Present at the opening were prominent artists like Jimmy Engineer, Naheed Raza and Shakil Siddiqui. The curator of Mohatta Palace Museum, Nasreen Askari , art critic and writer Marjorie Hussain.
Given that the almost fifty per cent of the pieces were sold on the day of the opening, one can safely say the exhibition was received very well. The exhibition will continue daily until May 5, 2011, from 11 am to 8 pm, excluding Sunday.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 28th, 2011.