Artist Muhammad Ali Bhatti says he has incorporated symbols found in the remains of the Indus Valley Civilisation. He says he research these symbols, extensively used in the 30-piece exhibition at the Collections Galleria, over five months of travelling in the southern Punjab and interior Sindh.
“These symbols are the most primitive and pivotal subjects in Pakistan’s history,” he says.
Bhatti says he selected the most traditional subjects. He says the subjects in the exhibition, titled Silent Symphonies, are eastern and the use of colour composition western. He has used acrylics on canvas to depict harmonic waves. Most pieces are portraits of elderly men and women.
Bhatti says use of vibrant colours in his paintings is a reflection of the culture and environment of the subjects, most of them belonging to Tharparkar, Bahawalpur and villages in the deserts of interior Cholistan and south Punjab. He has, however, used the colour yellow prominently to depict deserts and red and green colours to break barriers.
“Cholistan has been a popular subject for painting. I have used the colours to give a feeling of uncertainty and shock,” Bhatti said.
He says he has always been a patriot and most of his paintings are aimed at promoting Pakistani cultural symbols and activities.
The exhibition was initially planned to continue till November 13, however, it will now run till November 20. The works are priced between Rs50,000 and Rs100,000.
The visitors at the opening of the exhibition included artists Saeed Akhtar, Munawwar Mohiyuddin and Naeem Ehsan and faculty and students of the National College of Arts, the art and design school of the Punjab University, and the Beaconhouse National University.
Bhatti has taught at the Indus School of Art and Architecture and has been a curator of multiple art exhibitions in Ohio, USA. He is popular for his portraits of Benazir Bhutto and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, renowned scholars from India and bankers and businessmen from Singapore and Bangkok. He has also painted many US senators and done a portrait of former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Muhammad.
He is now working on his next exhibition. He says he has travelled in Lahore, Peshawar and parts of Balochistan to seek inspiration. The next exhibition, he says, will include about 100 paintings.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2012.