Varying tones: Stories depicted in monochrome and colour

The artist’s “Brick by Brick” series seeks to symbolise strength and continuity of life through bricks.

Sehrish Ali May 05, 2012


Known for her minimalist approach, printmaker and teacher at the National College of Arts Rawalpindi Zaira Zaka exhibited her work at Nomad Gallery here on Friday.

Using monochromatic tones, the artist’s “Brick by Brick” series seeks to symbolise strength and continuity of life through bricks.  “Each brick represents dreams, life and creation; they show the passage of time be it the past, present or an uncertain future,” Zaka said.

Also showcasing her “Echoes” series which runs along the same lines as the “Brick by Brick” series, the artist portrays various situations a person goes through in life: the lull after a storm, a colourless leaf till a flower blooms.

Zaka aims to capture not just her own emotions but also those present in every person without the constraints of societal boundaries that many of us are bound by. What makes her work intriguing is while portraying human emotions, the artist plays with unusual mediums of expression, such as bricks. She has showcased her work in Dubai, UK, USA and Nepal.

Atif Khan, another printmaker exhibiting his work at the gallery, takes inspiration from the eastern tradition of storytelling. Awarded the UNESCO-ASHBURG Bursary as well as the Common Wealth Arts and Crafts Award, Khan’s works are mainly narrative in nature. Where Zaka’s work is monochromatic, Khan’s work is a complex interplay of colours and texture.

Depicting a Mughal emperor amongst lush green trees holding the human heart in his hands in the “Landscapes of my heart” series, Khan uses his printmaking expertise to juxtapose contradicting scenarios such as the Mughal emperor riding a bicycle while vehicles line up one after another behind him in stark black and white.

His more subtle piece is perhaps a large depiction of whimsical clouds with little black and white angels peaking in between at a plane flying amongst them. Viewing his paintings one realises that the work of textures is not for the sake of art alone, but to discover numerous hidden messages it is the viewer’s prerogative to decipher.

The contrasting mediums put together in a single space contradict and complement the duo’s work. Dynamic in their own ways, the work speaks volumes of the skill and technique portrayed by Khan and Zaka. The exhibition will continue till May 16.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2012.


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