Think about miniature art and the mind conjures up Mughal era images such as horses, elephants, monarchy and thrones. Breaking away from this stereotype, a group of nine recent graduates of Fatima Jinnah Women University showcased their artworks at an exhibition titled “Thesis in Miniature” at Gallery6 recently.
The artists are Ayesha Bilal, Maramla Umair, Ridae Fatima, Rubab Zahra, Saima Farooq, Sidra Ashraf, Sofia Younas, Sumaiya Noor and Zahra Bangash.
Bilal’s work portrays hope. “I believe there is always a way out of despair and hope is a treasure that never dies. The only way to find hope is to have faith,” she said. She depicts the germination of seeds finding tracks through various obstacles, all representing hope.
Umair’s work, titled “Reflection”, explores the idea of dual identity. Two masked faces show conflict within as people are constantly trying to hide their true selves. “This is a very common phenomenon as people change their faces according to situations. It is difficult to tell reality from deceit,” she said.
Fatima’s work also deals with human nature. “We often overlook things that are in plain sight and are attracted towards those that are hidden,” she said. Her miniature showing sewing of the crack of an egg draws attention.
Zahra perceives human nature as threads that intermingle, creating sensations of complexities that exist in human beings. A miniature depicting a woman in red and grey threads and knitting those threads to compose herself is an interesting example of her concept.
Younus’s work explores the belief in superstitions. “Though Islam does not support superstitious beliefs, they still prevail in society,” she said. Younus questions whether people are abandoning these superstitions in favor of scientific rationale or are beginning to see a reemergence that starts to engage with our technological presence.
Farooq highlights the exclusion of transgenders from society and questions why they are not accepted for who they are. A vulture attacking a transgender in one miniature or a nameless identity card with a “third gender” sign in other expresses her subject well.
Ashraf’s work, titled “Hallucinations” exudes a dreamy, surreal feel. She explained that the Persian verses on one of the pieces were taken form the famous poem, “All we see or seems to do is a dream within a dream.”
Noor’s artworks depicting the role of taweez and jadotona and other means are conceptually strong.
Bangash’s series on “Perception of the self-obsessed mind” depicts the hollowness when one becomes obsessed with physical attributes. Her work epitomises fixation with beauty and the pursuit to have vital statistics of the famous Barbie Doll.
Gallery6’s owner and curator, Arjumand Faisel, said “There are some very interesting pieces. We do see all three stages of conceptualisation, synthesis and execution in some of the works.”
Asad Raza, a US-based consultant on Islamic Art and chief guest at the show, said, “I’m amazed at the kind of work these women have come up with, especially the gender issue prevalent in society.
Moreover, Raza commended the role of leading art schools and galleries in encouraging budding artists by providing them a platform to showcase their work.
Besides the contemporary miniature paintings from the thesis, the exhibition also includes several artworks that are studies of classical miniature done by graduates as their course work and are available at nominal prices.
The exhibition will continue till December 1 daily from 11am to 7pm, including Sundays, at House 19, Street 10, Sector F-8/3.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2013.