Distorting reality: From ‘Like a Prayer’ to the journey of Adam and Eve

Today, we are at a point where we do not know if we should be happy or afraid, says curator.

Express August 13, 2011


An examination of the excesses of the state informed each and every art piece at the ‘Dissipation of Euphoria’ exhibition that opened at the Indus Valley School gallery on Wednesday.

Curator Ammad Tahir gave four Fine Art and Visual Studies graduates the opportunity to work with different mediums while keeping Pakistan in mind. He added that since the country was a source of international gossip, they should use the phenomenon wisely. “The title of the show was inspired by how every time a new government is elected, the leaders start to lose control eventually and start fearing the end,” he told The Express Tribune. “This fear transforms their pleasure into pain. Today, we are at a point where we do not know if we should be happy or afraid - thus the title of the exhibition Dissipation of Euphoria.”

Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture alumna Sammar Sultan’s bold use of colour and space reflects the contradictions she faces every day. “Sultan used acrylics on canvas to show how consumed she was by feudalism and anger,” Tahir said. “It is like a fusion of taunts that she is throwing out into the open while condemning the killings and general madness that we live through.”

A recent graduate from the University of Karachi (KU), SM Raza lives in Korangi and works with the theory of love.

“His work has a million depths, for anyone who looks at it can easily visualise the violence and gore,” said the curator. Raza uses drawing inks, pen and phototransfer to create 16 portraits of a man in black, grey and red which stand out because of the pain and confusion reflected in the eyes and facial lines. In a reproduction of the Pakistani flag, for example, titled ‘Islami Jamhooria-e-Pakistan’, Raza uses print on canvas to represent his version of what the country has become, a sham, a fake, a mere reflection of what it used to be.

The exhibition also showcased the work of another KU graduate, Sophia Mairaj, who used drawings and collage to interpret Adam and Eve’s great fall. With a wall dedicated to what she sees as the damned circle of life, Mairaj uses simple mediums to depict man. From the silhouette of a naked man and woman to Pinocchio leading a pack of hyenas, her work attempts to portray a distorted reality. In her artist statement she said she wanted to know how people coped. “I plan on taking a journey with Adam and Eve through a series of mixed-medium drawings and collages,” she said.

Salman Hassan’s work, in comparison, was quite out of the ordinary. Titled ‘Like a Prayer’, there were two unframed and one framed pieces where square cut-outs of fish, insects, flowers woven with golden thread reflected an offering or dua. “The exhibition is spaced in such a way that his [Salman Hassan] work is like the phoenix that rises from the ashes,” said the curator. “One ant can do nothing but an army of ants can induce fear.”

The exhibition is set continue till August 27.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2011.


rizwan khan | 12 years ago | Reply

“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state... We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state... I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in due course Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.”

muhammad ali jinnah 11 august 1947

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