Fresh impressions: A feast of love, minus the façade

Inspiring yet casual showcase of work of 12 fresh NCA Lahore graduates.

Art pieces on display. PHOTOS: MYRA IQBAL/EXPRESS


In fleshing out novel ways of expression, artists have pushed curators to navigate exciting platforms to disseminate and display art. For Zara Sajjid, the idea behind the virtual gallery My Art World is to conceptualise a show before tailoring a space best suited for it. Within this creative trajectory, the curator held an art fair showcasing the works of fresh graduates from the National College of Arts, Lahore on Sunday.

Set up in a sun-kissed veranda in F-7/3, the fair was an opportunity for 12 young artists to share their work without the façade or inhibitions of a gallery space, which often intimidates emerging talents.

“The idea is to have an environment that is casual and interactive,” shared Sajjid, explaining that while the pieces were pre-selected, the collection was an amalgam of diverse mediums, subjects and techniques,  serving to inspire and energize the artists in an environment that was largely comfortable. “We need to have more of these platforms to encourage artists,” she added.

According to miniature artist Minahil Hafeez, whose thesis explores the idea of finding patterns within the chaos of human existence, embracing a career in fine arts seemed entirely daunting six months back. However, encouragement and support came through from the tight-knit community of artists, including her peers and professors.

“I have used ink and graphite and experimented on various kinds of paper to probe the order that we find in the way of routine, in an existence essentially marked with chaos,” she explained.

For 23-year-old Mina Arham who was a painting major, ideas and processes are intertwined, much like the blanko-sheets that construct the Margalla Towers in one of her canvases as an exhilarating exploration of construction and deconstruction.

“Painting might be my major, but I hardly every use paint in my work,” shared Arham, whose work gravitates to different mediums, exploring the notion of urban growth, using the photographic lens as a frame of reference. Much of Arham’s visual inspiration comes from the works of Bern and Hila Becker, the photographic duo whose work glorifies industrial buildings, lending them a transcendental essence otherwise absent from the everyday perspective of a spectator.

Another piece uses carving as a metaphor for how cities grow, evoking the architectural romance of Italo Calvino’s book Invisible Cities. Mina describes the piece as the journey from Lahore, where she studies and Islamabad, the city that holds her heart with utmost passion.

Building on a similar idea — process as a tool for expression — Kiran Chaudary’s charcoal sketches of a baby reference her thesis work, which delimits her relationship with her maid, whose faith in Christianity piqued her curiosity while growing up. While the flow of charcoal is more ambivalent in her thesis work, the sketches marking the beginning of her concept are meditative and emotive- tying her own childhood to the contours of her doting maid’s child, breathing life into the unframed pieces displayed on a wall.

Shifting from concept to craft, 24-year-old Mahnur Naseem’s ceramic lamp relates conscience, seeking a way to multiply the source of light through the use of clever material — in this case, reflective ceramic. Naseem’s detachable lighting sculpture uses 3 watts of light, multiplying it through reflection, and employing traditional Islamist form towards modernist utility.

“With the scarcity of electricity, I felt that it was prescient to explore new ways to create light,” explained a smiling Naseem.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2014.

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