An exhibition of calligraphic paintings by Rana Riaz Ahmed titled “Dot to Design,” was launched at the austere, clean confines of the National Art Gallery on Tuesday.
The artist, followed by a posse of friends, admirers and cameramen, appeared modestly attired in traditional garb, nothing out of the ordinary, and wore an embroidered hat. This is a man committed solely to his art.
It immediately became apparent to the tide of viewers that the works displayed were not brush-stroked in traditional calligraphic renderings: Riaz uses pointillism, developed by French painters Paul Signac and Georges Stuart – a nearly mathematical technique that allows for the production of very accurate images, through the use of painted dots.
These dots form the image and, in Riaz’s case, the names of Allah.
And the oil on canvas paintings are, in fact, very precise: Riaz’s control indicates a life of total focus and hermithood.
“He is a very senior and eminent artist,” said Tauqeer Nasir, Director General, Pakistan National Council of the Arts. “I know him personally; he is extremely devoted and lives in a trance,”, he remarked.
“I have been influenced by the Thuluth, Diwani and Kufi styles,” said the artist. His work demonstrates a contemporary departure. The brightly hued paintings envision a style more experimental than normative; it is a powerful statement on artistic evolution and the sacred.
“I think his work really captures the essence of the universe and praises the Almighty. It’s very touching,” said Sahar, a visitor at the exhibition.
Riaz has succeeded in translating his subject into a specific, modern way; he implies that what is sacred is not static – that the sacred is mutable and can work with different mediums, divergent techniques.
“My hard work is in front of you; take a look and see for yourself,” said a modest and welcoming Riaz.
The exhibition will continue till June 26.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2011.
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