We have seen models turn into actors, singers turn into designers and cricketers turn into politicians. But it will be the first time a politician turns into an artist. With a rare initiative by a politician, senior representative of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) Marvi Memon exhibited her artwork titled “Discriminations” at the Nomad Gallery on Monday.
“I have been dabbling in paintings since I was a child,” Memon told The Express Tribune.
With paintings, that use expressionist technique, Memon has incorporated the social, economic and political struggles she has witnessed in her four years in politics, along with the discrimination she has faced. “I present some of my struggles visually to you. The paintings have an underlying theme of old and new politics. The discriminations are at their height with the worst of old politics and the relief is with the combination of the best of old politics and a vision of new politics,” said Memon, looking excited about her exhibition.
Despite Memon having studied art under the tutelage of famous artist Nahid Raza, her work can be interpreted as highly abstract. Coupled with her strong socio-political underpinnings and position in politics, her work may garner a shaky response from the public. While her established public persona may get her a positive response, it may also be easily looked upon with more scepticism. During the exhibition, however, the audience seemed to appreciate her effort.
Television personality Sadia Hyat Khan told The Express Tribune, “Marvi’s establishment as a public figure will work for her as she is drawing more attention and bringing out a bigger audience.” Khan further shared that her favourite painting by Marvi was a piece called “Choices in Life”. She added, “The painting feels very rebellious and revolutionary as one can feel the angst through the use of the colour red.”
Director and curator, Nageen Hyat, who was also present at the exhibition, shared her thoughts. “When Marvi came to me, I didn’t know her personally but thought it would be very interesting to have an artistic representation of our politics from someone so closely associated with it,” she said. She further stated that she values the work not only for its content and context but also its meshing of emotions with the brain. “Her paintings are very symbolic, experimental, spontaneous and honest and about half her work is well articulated.”
Nadira, a tourist from Nairobi, commented, “While I really appreciate the social and political worth of this work, personally it’s not something I would hang in my house. However, sometimes in art it is important to choose relevance over aesthetics.”
Musician Arieb Azhar, also present at the exhibition, appreciated the equation of art with politics but added, “When I look at art I like to wonder about it, but I felt the literal titles came between my own interpretations of the work.” In order to fully understand his response to the paintings he made a second round of the gallery, without the title guide.
With the exception of paintings such as “Protest part 1” and “Water shortages: Skardu to Ketibunder”, it would be nearly impossible for a viewer to guess the subject matter. However, it can be argued as Azhar did, “Art is to be felt and not understood.”
Memon’s favourite painting, one close to her heart, is “Acid and Karo Kari”, which depicts the struggle that thousands of women, including herself, faced in order to successfully pass the acid legislation bill. This painting also juxtaposes an unscathed half of a woman’s face with one that’s been the victim of acid violence. She dedicated this piece to acid survivor Haleema Bhutto as a symbol of support for acid survivors across the world.
The exhibition will continue till July 31.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2012.
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