For artist Aleem Dad Khan, inspiration for his work comes from his expeditions in Pakistan.
Gorge Slide, one of eight paintings by the artist to go on display at 39K Gallery on Friday evening, offers a scenic view of Darail in Kohistan, an area said to be haunted.
“Travellers are advised to avoid it during the day and to pass through at night and quickly,” says the Hunza native. He stopped at the spot a few months ago in daylight to capture its vivid mountainous terrain, ignoring the locals’ advice. “It was creepy,” he adds.
In Hot Engagement, Khan combines a symbol of a horseman with a female idol, images coming from different regions of the country. “Many rocks are inscribed with an ancient sign language as one travels north beyond Hunza. I have painted one of those symbols next to a painting of a goddess from the Indus Valley civilisation in the south,” he says.
Opening Slide gives a view of a hillside through a car window, while Slab Slide looks at the Margala Hills from a desk. “Khan has cleverly combined human impressions of nature and vice versa through his work in tarpaulin, an unexplored art medium,” said curator Rakshanda Atawar.
Atawar said she became a fan of the artist after seeing a painting by Khan at the Pakistan National Council of Arts in Islamabad a few months ago.
“I prefer exploring different mediums myself as an artist and this was the first time I saw someone use tarpaulin,” she said.
Khan’s works involve the use of charcoal, gouache (vegetable paints) and gesso, a material used for preparing the surface of a canvas. “Interestingly, he has used gesso as a painting medium and not to even out the surface,” she said.
The works, priced at around Rs100,000 each, will remain on display until May 7.
Khan attended the National College of Arts from 1999 to 2002, training as a print artist.
He teaches at the Fatima Jinnah College for Women and the National College of Arts, both in Rawalpindi. He often travels between Hunza and Islamabad, where he currently resides.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 28th, 2013.