Two cubes, white and black, representing illumination and darkness, are Amna Illyas’s attempt at “breaking the viewer’s approach towards sculptures.”
“My work is aesthetically minimal and conceptually rich,” said Illyas. “It’s about the concept and not about a human figure created with the commercial notion of matching someone’s drawing room curtains.” Illyas is heavily inspired by minimalistic art movements in the USA of 1950s and 1960s.
For her fifth solo show, Illyas assembled fibreglass sheets into two cubical structures at the Rohtas 2. It took her about 10 days to assemble. A light has been installed inside the white transparent cube and the walls have been scratched, inside and outside.
“Initially, when I lit up the transparent cube, it appeared too dull. So I scratched it to evoke a feeling of anxiety,” she said. The illuminated cube is placed diagonally to another cube, equal in size, but painted black. To the artist, it suggests disorientation. The concept is accentuated by installing a fog emitter for a hazy ambience.
She says load shedding and the subsequent darkness is the idea she started out with but it morphed into the idea of national aimlessness.
“In the wake of terrorist activities, Pakistani people are more disoriented,” she said.
A small door leads into the black cube. “It is also a reminder of the nationwide feeling of being no where,” she said. “And one is likely to be disoriented after walking out of darkness towards a cube lit white.”
Illyas said she had also tried to reinvigorate the minimalistic approach, adding that her work leaves a lot to one’s imagination and senses.
The work is titled ‘Immediacy’ as a result of different responses from the visitors. “Some had a sensitive nose and were nasally stimulated. Others felt a stronger impact on eyes after leaving a dark room and walking into a lit up room,” Illyas said.
Illyas graduated in 2003 from the National College of Arts with a major in sculpture and is now an assistant professor there in the Sculpture Department.
Art critic Quddus Mirza said “The artist has successfully experimented with her observations. She has effectively delivered the concept of obstructing clarity. It conveys a feeling of ambivalence.”
Mirza said Illyas was effective for maneuvering light with transparent objects. “Her use of colour has mostly been limited to black and white but she has always been clever with depicting spatial themes.”The show will run till May 19.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2012.