Artists share a ‘saucerful of secrets’ at Sanat’s latest exhibition

Published: February 2, 2017
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KARACHI: Donia Kaiser and Hira Mansur have brought to canvas their unique life experiences in an exhibition aptly titled ‘A Saucerful of Secrets’.

The exhibition, which opened on Tuesday evening at Sanat Gallery, show cases the works of the two graduates of the National College of Arts (NCA), Lahore.

“This carefully crafted miniature relates towards my feelings of love for my family,” said Kaiser, an NCA graduate of 2011. She uses the medium of gouache on wasli and paints using the layering format. “This is not a Pahari miniature, neither is it Mughal nor Persian,” she explained. “This is my own technique of understanding and bringing forward a miniature collection.”

Clearly Kaiser’s family is her muse as one image shows her husband seated in a car parked over grass while another shows her daughter standing next to Mickey Mouse. “It is based on my intuition and imagination. When I imagine with closed eyes, the canvas is all black and intuitively subjects begin to appear. However, the landscape often remains black.”

Kaiser admitted she is deeply attached to her artwork and spends a great deal of time on each piece, sometimes exceeding three months.

As for Mansur – an NCA graduate of 2008 – adding social value to her work was important. Using mixed medium, her works comprises water colour, needle piercing, ink and pencil lead.

She explained that a lot of her inspiration comes from her personal experience of being an adopted daughter for her aunt.

“It took my mother seven long years after her marriage to adopt me,” said Mansur, adding that she has a very close bond with her adoptive parents. “Before I came to her [mother], she would kill time by sewing me socks.”

What makes the situation more hostile is the pressure on married couples to have a child, she said, admitting that she is uncertain what makes other people question couples in this manner. Using these themes, Mansur has been drawing for the last eight years.

Sanat Gallery owner Abid Merchant also shared a few words on the artists’ works. “Kaiser’s compositions are theatrical in their starkness,” he said. “The pitch black backgrounds blur the boundaries inside and out, between reality and fantasy, between presence and absence.”

As for Mansur, he said, “Mansur’s delicate water colours are laboriously built up in many successful layers. Her imagery is built up from her personal history. Every object and animal in her compositions is derived from her childhood experiences.”

The exhibition will continue till February 9.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2017.

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