Taxidermy: Ostrich parts and a donkey in love

First solo exhibition of NCA graduate’s sculptures on display at Alhamra.

Express January 08, 2012

LAHORE: The feathery torso and slender neck of an ostrich, its severed head and feet placed at the side, set against a red and black velvet backdrop, formed the most talked about piece of the eight sculptures on display at the Alhamra on The Mall.

The untitled piece is Saroop Soofi’s interpretation of the English expression “Don’t bury your head in the sand like an ostrich,” said the 2009 National College of Arts graduate at her first solo exhibition, ‘Sculptures’, on Saturday.

Five of the eight pieces on display are stuffed animals and took Soofi about a year and a half to put together, she said. One is of a blindfolded white donkey holding a cushion titled ‘Love foolosophy’.

“The cushion represents the comfort of wanting to stay in love and going to any extent to retain it in life. The blindfold symbolises the concept of being blindly in love,” Soofi said.

Two intertwined pigeons – one white and the other black – represent the triumph of evil over good.

Two white rabbits, stuffed and placed face to face, represent eternal love. “Rabbits are seen as loving animals. And these two stuffed dead rabbits represent eternal love. It is the glorification of dead love,” said Soofi.

Other works on display included a cement sculpture of a man with his head in his hands and legs crossed, entitled ‘I’m sad’. A sculpture of a mother and a child – one in wood and the other in metal   were also on display. “These are more vociferous and don’t need much explanation,” Soofi said. Critic Quddus Mirza, Soofi’s teacher at the National College of Arts, said the exhibition was “the artist’s interpretation of human feelings in the form of dead animals”. He said the sculptures were “elaborate and expressive”.

Imad Khan, an architect attending the exhibition, thought the sculptures were “somewhat daring and new”, but showed a lack of skill.

Nausheen Sayeed, head of the sculpture department at NCA, and Saleema Hashmi, dean of the School of Visual Arts at the Beaconhouse National University, as well as many other NCA students, teachers and journalists attended the opening.

The exhibition will run until January 14 from 9am to 8pm daily. The pieces are priced between Rs35,000 for a metal-glazed glass pumpkin to Rs200,000 for the ostrich.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2012.


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