Showcasing talent: Artists and friends make guest appearances in their own paintings

Visitors found the portrayal of modernism and antiquity diverse and dynamic.

Taha Anis November 03, 2013
Melting Into Us by Rajab Ali Sayed is the artist’s favourite. Inspired by personal memories, he said that the painting is the closest to his heart. Dua Abbas’ The Paganfeatures the artist herself. PHOTO COURTESY UNICORN GALLERY


While some artists use nature, landscapes, colours and emotions as their muse, two young artists, Rajab Ali Sayed and Dua Abbas, drew inspiration from their own lives and their friends for their latest work being exhibited at the Unicorn Gallery.

Both artists, graduates of the National College of Arts, Lahore, painted themselves in most of their paintings.What stood out most was the difference in their works.

Sayed used oil on canvas while Abbas’s works were mostly pastel on paper.  Abbas stuck to self-portraits, experimenting with their colours and moods to convey varying emotions while Sayed used the full flexibility of his medium to showcase images ranging from a gathering of friends to a man walking bare-foot in the snow.

However, the most striking of Sayed’s images, ‘Hello, Goodbye’, was of a man standing in a barren wasteland wearing a suit and holding a picture of a hump-back whale. “The painting signifies the duality of human desires and how we are never satisfied,” Sayed explained. “The barren landscape behind the man and the image of the ocean that he holds represent the variances in us.”

When quizzed about which painting was his favourite, Sayed was quick to point to the one that inspired the name of the event ‘Melting into Us’. The picture portrayed the artist sitting with three close friends. Sayed claimed that most of his work is inspired by his interaction with people, which helps lend a personal touch to his paintings.  This was his most heartfelt work, according to the artist.


“I like his work because it accurately depicts our generation, our lifestyle and our ways,” said Maliha Jatoi, Qineqt HR manager. Art enthusiast Shahida Khuhro also praised the way Rajab’s work was identifiable in today’s time.

Perhaps this was the main distinction between the two artists that led to such a stark contrast in what were quintessentially self-portraits. Sayed prides himself on his graphic realism. His work accurately depicts the younger generation, our generation, as observed by Jatoi. Abbas on the other hand, while sticking strictly to painting herself, seemed to want to transcend time and era. One of her paintings, ‘The Pagan’, had a renaissance look to it while another was lent a futuristic touch by the artist.

Siraj Dehlvi, an artist with 45 years of experience, claimed that both artists had remarkable talent for their age and showed maturity beyond their years. Dehlvi was particularly impressed by Sayed’s work, stating that his work is filled with emotion. “A successful artist is able to convey emotions through his paintings.

A painting that fails to do so is worth nothing more than the paint used in it,” he bluntly pointed out. Also praising Abbas’s work, Dehlvi remarked on how the colours in her paintings look natural. “No colour seems out of place. Composing is a very essential aspect of a painting and she [Abbas] seems to have a natural talent for it.”

The exhibition will run till November 9.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 3rd, 2013.


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