Art exhibition: Exploring similarities between people in diverse cultures

Published: October 24, 2013
The two artists have depicted their childhood memories of living in Oman and Africa respectively. PHOTO: EXPRESS

The two artists have depicted their childhood memories of living in Oman and Africa respectively. PHOTO: EXPRESS


A collaboration between two artists who shared their cross-culture experiences will be on display at the Nomad Art Gallery from Thursday.

An art exhibition, “Spirit of Cultures,” will showcase works of artists Ahmed Habib and Zahra Kazmi. Coincidentally, both artists have lived in diverse cultures. Habib and Kazmi express their childhood memories of Oman and Africa in their latest collection.

“The epicentre of this exhibition is the little pieces from my childhood that I have tried to immortalise on the canvas,” said Habib. Moving back in 1994, Habib who grew up in Oman speaks about its similarity with Balochistan through his work. Women from Oman and Balochistan dressed in their traditional attires depict the message of similarity. “As diverse as the cultures might be, women will have the same issues and concerns all over the world.”

The two artists have depicted their childhood memories of living in Oman and Africa respectively. PHOTO: EXPRESS

With intricate details of the figures on canvass merging acrylic, charcoal and oil with his hands, Habib’s use of earthy hues and tinges of bright orange and green magnetises his viewers. In his statement, Habib speaks about looking back at idiosyncrasies and adding elements to his work such as gigantic coconut trees which he had embraced from the beautiful city of Salala, Oman, creating a U-shaped angle giving the impression of a theatre set having the unpredictable Arabian Sea as an inquisitive audience; an unsung opera that he was a part of.

Mountain ranges of Oman, the vastness of its sea, the scorching heat of its desert and the color, spirit and serenity started reflecting in my drawings and poetry that I had been learning from my father, he said.

Meanwhile, Kazmi, who lived in Kisumu, Kenya also landed in Balochistan where she studied and spent her youth. Reconnecting with her African roots and blending it with her Pakistani origin, Kazmi uses a map of Balochistan as the base of her artwork and uses elements to creating a link between the two countries.

With placement of dark African figures embellished with bright jewellery and tinges of gold on top. With animals shadowed in the back, it’s hard to miss out the impressions of nature that have been embedded in the artist’s mind. She uses glittering rich strokes of gold shades, the reflection of light on Kazmi’s work brightens up her work.

In her statement she mentions that the African continent is painfully underrated in terms of beauty and simplicity, especially Kenya. Perhaps the greatest understanding which my unusual upbringing led me to is that humans are, intrinsically, the same.

“We experience similar emotions of pain, suffering and happiness, regardless of where we live and where we are born. Emotions are beyond race, beyond gender, beyond religion; the only relevance is being humane,” she said.

These are memories shared through striking paintings; finally to converge in the reality of the present said Nageen Hyat, curator of Nomad Art Gallery.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2013.

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