Exhibitions of watercolour paintings of an Old City mosque and ceramics inspired by the Indus Valley civilisation opened at the Hast-o-Neest Centre for Traditional Art and Culture on Sunday.
Both Treasures of Masjid Wazir Khan by Dr FD Toor and Earth Fire Water Air by Sheherezade Alam are inspired by the history of this region. Both artists said they hoped to raise awareness about their subjects, which were generally neglected.
“Most people don’t know much about the Wazir Khan Masjid and that makes me sad, so I decided to display only Wazir Khan Masjid paintings,” said Toor, a self-taught artist based in Lahore, about his 20-piece exhibition.
“I’ve had a relationship with the mosque since my childhood. I was born in Purani Kotwali Koocha in the Old City and I could see one of the minarets of Wazir Khan Masjid from the window of the first floor of my house. When I started painting, that view reappeared somewhere in my mind and just transferred itself onto the canvas,” he said.
Alam, one of the country’s most renowned ceramicists, said she hoped to rekindle a connection with this region’s past. “Our history is not just 63 years old, it’s almost 9,000 years old,” she said. “Our nation needs to know the importance of the Indus Valley.”
She said it was important to maintain traditions. “Traditional arts should be promoted. I’m teaching my students to love the Earth. I teach them to believe that we belong to Harappa and Harappa belongs to us. We should not deviate from our tradition.”
Alam said her works were influenced by ancient art. “There is a great influence of Indus Valley shapes in my work,” she added.
The exhibition will run till June 12.
Visitor Maheen Kardar, a fashion designer, said the 35 works on display had a calming effect on her. “I have been admiring Shehrezade’s work for the last 20 years. Every time I see her works I feel myself filled with peace. Her work is ethereal, spiritual and calm.”
Taimoor Khan Mumtaz, one of the organisers, said Toor’s unique understanding of the naqshkari at the mosque was evident in his paintings. “The motifs at Wazir Khan Masjid are inspired by nature and I think Dr Toor shares that with the original artists [who worked on the mosque]. The eye of the artist has the innocence and the purity to see and observe the craftsmanship and then transfer it to canvas,” he said.
Toor has exhibited two solo shows at the Alhamra Art Gallery and has also shown his work in Karachi at the Grandeur Gallery, the Hamail Art Gallery, the Unicorn Gallery and Ocean Art.
Alam has been working as a ceramicist since the 1970s. She is a graduate of the National College of Arts and worked under then principal Shakir Ali at the Shahdara Pottery Development Centre.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2011.
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