Pakistan boasts a wide spectrum of art and artists. From traditional miniaturists to surrealist expressionism, we have it all. However, despite the presence of maestros and their dexterous strokes, what is missing is gallery space for upcoming artists. Art enthusiasts largely feel that the best art education is acquired from art galleries, but there remains a lack of space for canvases.
In this light, the opening of a new space in Gulberg, Lahore on Wednesday is a welcome treat. Assaad Sallahuddin’s latest venture Color Gallery welcomes art aficionados and provides an alternative place for newer artists to express themselves in a way that makes that world their own. While the concept behind the small room is to encourage the works of upcoming artists, the opening exhibition titled ‘Challenge and Change’ displays the work of the masters.
“A bare wall is an empty and lonely thing to look at,” says Sallahuddin. “Art fills a void, satisfies a need that demands associations and above all, makes one feel secure and free to roam around within a world that one likes to be in.” He later describes a wall that is adorned with the richness of the aesthetic expressiveness as “something else”.
The gallery has honoured the eternal masters of skillful strokes. Khalid Iqbal’s portraits precede Rahat Naveed Masud’s ‘Citruses’; Saeed Akhtar’s beautiful figurines are followed by Ghulam Rasul’s technique; Eqbal Mehdi brings his world alive using ink on paper and Ajaz Anwar’s cityscape of ‘Neela Gumbad to Lahori Gate’ adds heritage to the quaint little space. Iqbal Hussain’s women caress the walls and Salima Hashmi’s mixed medium on rag paper hang next to them. One of the most interesting pieces, however, is Colin David’s tribute to his wife Zarah and daughter Christine. The piece is from his collection that was attacked and mauled back in 1989 by angry extremists Islamist who had broken into the opening night of his show. The rugged edging of Christine David’s portrait still resonates the torture it went through then.
Standing in front of her mother Anna Molka Ahmed’s still life, curator Zarah David talks about joining Color Gallery. “It’s a cross-section of all sorts of art that will be displayed here over time. We have started by honouring the masters and then will move onto students and younger artists over the next shows.”
“Creating a rare aesthetic experience, one discovers that the gallery debut is supported by the country’s internationally acknowledged, pioneering artists and those artists who are now continuing by expanding the work of those extraordinary artistic trailblazers,” says art critic Marjorie Husain. “Seldom does one have the opportunity to view the artworks of such important artists shown together.”
Color Gallery has opened its doors with promise and hope to allow its visitors an exciting journey and an experience of rich expression. Plans for a series of exciting events are underway encompassing work in disciplines that include sculpture, ceramics, installations and painting as well as new media art.
The ongoing exhibition ‘Challenge and Change’ which opened on September 26 will continue till October 6.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2012.