Art exhibit: Remembering simpler, happier times

Pindi-based artist spotlights underrepresented areas of the twin cities.

Sehrish Ali March 06, 2012


Rediscovery of the ‘lesser known’ seems to be the theme behind the new artist Naveed Akthar’s work that opened for display at the Rawalpindi Arts Council on Tuesday.

By using oil on canvas, Akhtar focuses on the seldom spotlighted inner areas of some of the twin cities’ oldest quarters.

Most of these representations concentrate on congested alleys with towering walls adorned with derelict but traditional woodworked windows and jharokas. Raja Bazaar and Saidpur Village are two of the more obvious examples, with Saidpur’s tell-tale golden yellow domes nestled amid the Margalla Hills.

Akhtar also shows an interest in watercolours using neon colours of pink, yellow and blue to create a psychedelic effect on sketched domes and jharokas, but what becomes increasingly apparent is the narrative arc through this set.

Upon closer look, one can see hidden faces of men and women lurking in the background. When asked, Akhtar explains that old architecture is diminishing. “These old structures tell a story of community-based living, much different from how things are now”, he said. Though many of Akhtar’s paintings reflect real life structures, they are also couched in his perception of them. He uses a painting of a tight Raja Bazaar alleyway as an example which on the surface looks only like an alleyway but on closer inspection it is revealed to be a path cut through a large mountain.

Another noteworthy piece is what Akhtar describes as “the circle of life”. Bright colours splashed on canvas while a tornado-like natural force sucks in people depicted as faceless figures.

Senator Tahira Aurangzeb who served as the chief guest on the occasion, expressed the need to promote artists. “Every other country supports and promotes their artists, which is a dire need here before our artists become extinct,” she said, adding that Akhtar was truly a ‘Pindi Boy’ as reflected by his work.

The exhibition will continue until March 10.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2012.


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