KARACHI: You would shudder if you looked at a chameleon and it looked right back at you dead in the eye.
But if you saw this image captured in a photograph and blown up to a larger-than-life scale, it would be enough to make you run in the opposite direction. And thus, if you are squeamish, caution is advised for a photography exhibition by two click-friendly businessmen that has just opened at the ArtChowk gallery. According to Shakira Masood, the owner of the gallery, what really grabbed her attention while planning the show for the two self-taught photographers was the sheer joy with which they talked about their work.
“They would come to me and talk about their artwork for hours. Suddenly, Owais would tell Jahanzaib, ‘Lets get back to work, man’. And when I would blink at them in confusion, wondering what they meant by that, they would explain that they were talking about their businesses,” Masood said with a laugh. Owais Sheikh said that while he was planning to exhibit his work for one and a half years, it was only now that he was able to pursue his passion.
“Jahanzaib and I have known each other for 11 years. We used to play cricket together. It took us all this time to get out act together,” he said. Owais explored photography as a hobby while running a textiles business and Jahanzaib Najam, who runs a cold storage facility, said that he has been taking pictures for as long as he can remember. “I’ve traveled around Sindh and the Punjab to capture these images, which are, for me, just the best way to capture moments in time and immortalise them,” said Jahanzaib. Co-curator Bushra Hussain said that the exhibition was a great way to promote photography as a medium of art.
The trend of displaying photography as art, she said, is a fairly recent one but is quickly becoming popular. While some of the pieces are great attempts to explore the country’s rich rural and urban landscape, some viewers felt that the men had perhaps not fully explored technique. “I just feel that the images needed a bit more focus and maybe needed to be toned down in terms of size,” commented Hina Farooqui, a miniature artist, who came to attend the opening.
She added, however, that she loved some of the pieces that were almost minimalist and therefore looked better in terms of both composition as well as contrast of light and dark. Emaan Mahmud, a printmaker- turned-painter, commented on how the lizards were “very scary” but that their textures were oddly attractive. For Masood, however, the works by the modern-day “hippies”, as she fondly referred to the photographers, were a refreshing change from the kind of art that was produced solely for commercial purposes and not for the simple joy of appreciating honest images.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 16th, 2010.
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