Pakistani sculptor takes traditional style in South Korea

Published: September 9, 2011
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Abdul Jabbar joins selected international team to work in stone for exhibition.

Abdul Jabbar joins selected international team to work in stone for exhibition.

KARACHI: Abdul Jabbar, a Pakistani sculptor, briefed an audience of over 40 people about his jaunt through South Korea at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture on Thursday to share his experiences from the eighth International Stone Sculpture Symposium.

The month-long trip sponsored by the governments of Chung-Cheongnam-Do and Boryeong city concluded with an exhibition by the artists at The Gaehwa Art Sculpture Park. Artists from Russia, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Senegal, Hungary, Chile, Korea and Pakistan were invited to be a part of the event.

“It was a great honour to be the only sculptor invited to the event from a country of over 170 million people,” said Jabbar. “It was not just a grand experience for me but the name of our country will be respected in terms of its artistic values for many years to come.”

Once in Korea, Jabbar tirelessly worked to create a twin-stone sculpture, slightly over three metres high, of a male and female character in black granite. The materials they were given to work with consisted of black and white granite from the Boryeong Mountains. The blocks of stone, weighing over six tonnes, were delivered to their workspaces which were demarcated using national flags.

The palms of both of Jabbar’s statues faced outwards. Jabbar, staying true to his trademark style, stuck to the theme he categorises as ‘Ordinary soul.’  He explained that there was no dictation about the stance the artists had to take, which is why he stuck to the theme he has been following for years. “When people familiar with art see my work, they recognise it instantly,” said Jabbar. “This is because I have been staying true to my style.”

The consistent use of power tools and machinery to create such large-scale sculptures can wear an artist down, said Jabbar, while flipping through picture slides during his presentation. “At one point, I was having trouble raising my arms due to the amount of labour involved.”

“However, the ambition to create a high-quality final result helps an artist overcome such physical barriers.”

One of the photographs he showed depicted a microphone hanging from the ceiling by an electrical wire. Adjacent to this was a pair of speakers, five feet high from the ground in a dimly-lit room. The room was filled with teak fixtures and was populated by a group of ostensibly enthusiastic people preparing themselves for a night of Karaoke singing.

This was but one of 2,000 pictures depicting scenes from Korea that he had captured in an attempt to preserve and share with the rest of the world. However, remembering his twin-stone sculpture, Jabbar reiterated that it was not all fun and games.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 9th,  2011.

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