“Synonyms” – a solo show by digital artist Haider Ali Jan at the Rohtas Art Gallery reflects upon political celebrations, violence and personal relationships through silhouettes, figurines and an animated feature film.
The exhibit opens with a five-minute animation with a voice-over taken from a speech by former president Pervez Musharraf on October 12, 1999. The documentary continues into the four paintings produced by Jan – Conversation, Head, Father and Child and People – all acrylics on canvas.
The animation is replayed as people keep entering and leaving the gallery.
The animation shows an animated Musharraf, his face hidden behind roses. Jan says he uses roses to represent “a celebration that has lost its meaning through frequent repetitions.”
“We see people celebrate things without any substance. Exaggerated celebration leaves things hollow,” he says.
This is the third solo exhibition by Jan, a 2008 Beaconhouse National University (BNU) graduate. He says he is inspired by video footage of political events, newspaper clippings and magazines. “I keep collecting stuff, and when I start painting, I do not know where it might lead. I connect random shapes, faces and figures to produce something meaningful like the work on display,” he says.
I focus on getting the dimensions of the piece right rather than focusing on the content, he says. Salima Hashmi, the gallery owner, appreciates Jan’s creations. “This work gives a ‘shock of recognition.’ This is Jan’s way of entering the viewers’ consciousness,” she says. “He doesn’t presume too much and is not very articulate. This allows viewers to have various perspectives, she said. The paintings are priced between Rs60,000 and Rs80,000.
Jan previous works have included digital prints on Muharram. He teaches a course on illustration and drawing at the Indus Valley School in Karachi and at BNU in Lahore.
The exhibit will run till September 29.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2012.
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