An exhibit screaming out-of-the-box

Two young artists display refreshing contemporary art pieces.

Photo Myra Iqbal/sehrish Ali December 13, 2012


Young Pakistani artists struggle every day for recognition and support. Many tend to play it safe and follow the old, beaten track for approval from their seniors, but some come onto the art scene screaming contemporary through their work.

Qadir Jhatial and Tahir Ali are among the latter.

Young and unassuming, the fresh graduates from National College of the Arts (NCA) Lahore are showcasing their abstract contemporary work in the “Sublime Encounters” exhibit at Rohtas Gallery, which will run till December 24.

Though Jhatial and Ali’s theme remains abstract, their final pieces stand out — poles apart, yet intriguing in the way they complement each other. Black and grey dripping paint with scribbles running across one canvas, while the other infuses bright colours to depict complex chromatic order.

Ali tries to emulate American “drip painting” maestro Jackson Pollock’s technique and style. Using predominantly black and grey as his base colours, he scribbles on his canvas with complete abandon, with a dash of colour here and there and tin foil glued on in symmetrical pattern. One also notices celestial bodies giving off uneven rays.

“But don’t be confused, the presence of the sun has a simple reason. Every time I put my hand to a sheet of paper I automatically draw a circle, it’s a reflex habit one gets through doodling and scribbling,” said Ali.

However, upon closer inspection one realises that his works are actually landscapes that have been painted over to look dark and gloomy.


Some of Jhatial’s pieces. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL/ Express

“The work has evolved from cityscapes and landscapes. I inverted their colours and changed the mood entirely. From everyday scenes, they transformed into dark, gloomy, chaotic images that reflect unease and unrest,” Ali said.

The dash of bright colours on canvas creates movement on his images that allows the viewer to run their eyes across his work instead of being stuck on one particular area.

Where Ali uses black and grey, Jhatial runs far away from it, instead opting for bright reds, blues, yellows and pinks, using everyday objects such as a sink, or a boy sitting, and even a large depiction of a landscape complete with Hollywood Boulevard-style palm trees.

“I draw what I want to paint and then fill in the colours. The use of unorthodox bright colours for such everyday scenarios is actually to create a flat image, converting 3D into 2D,” Qadir said. The artist also cleverly placed his eight smaller pieces — all with unique images — in a row to give it a pop-art vibe that holds the viewers interest.

The placement allows each object to become a part of a bigger picture.

While many are used to being given a reason behind each piece, these young artists simply paint with abandon and do it well.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 13th, 2012.


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