Four artists from geographically different locations are seeking equal footing, at a joint art exhibition aptly titled “Equality”, that started at Tehzeeb Art Gallery on Monday.
American artists Chloe Boden and Marian Barber colluded with Pakistani artists Sundas Rana and Sakina Akber for this collection, in which the pieces tell their own story while serving a higher narrative arc.
Individual artists worked on each piece before mailing out a completed section to the others to add their perspectives on the art. The result is a combination of contemporary and miniature pieces that leave distinct impressions. The collaboration helps to give an insight to cultures foreign to one’s own.
With a fascination for animal behaviour and its connection to the ‘animal instincts’ of mankind, Boden sketches various anthropomorphic creatures with a sadistic twist. A gussied up girl has hooves in place of arms, signifying a woman’s ability to adorn herself and yet be powerless at the same time.
Mythology drives Barber’s work while Rana seeks to bridge reality with fantasy bringing an interesting contrast to the interpretations of each. Akber draws spiritual beings, some bordering on the controversial.
The combination is a unique but tasteful mesh where one style does not overshadow the other and no piece feels over the top. The subjects themselves are thought-provoking with a certain lightness lent by the mayhem all around them.
One particular piece shows a sketch of an upside down woman. With mouth and eyes shut tight, her throat takes the shape of a monstrous animal screaming silently as she remains constricted by a string tied around her neck. Meanwhile, two faceless veiled girls stand down below interconnected with abstract balloon shapes.
Apart from collaborative work, individual pieces are also being showcased allowing for a better understanding of the style of each artist. Rana focuses on a doll of her creation named “Aslam” who represents consumerism and the chaos it imparts. “I am interested in the role consumerism plays in our society”, she said, adding that “the doll is a metaphor for a girl, easily discarded once used”.
On the other hand, Barber draws a boy and girl standing on the fringes of a field. The boy is being attacked by a grizzly bear while the girl stands with her back to a black figure (possibly impersonating the devil) who seems to be whispering in her ear.
Moreover, Akber showcases a frame with three round cutouts with drawings on them; out of the three, two show a mystical bearded man lost in thought with the blue black universe around him, the third is a quaint little drawing of a river side. The exhibit will continue until April 19.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2012.
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