What was most visible at the art exhibit, ‘Under Cover’, were the stark differences as well as the subtle similarities between the two artists featured at the gallery.
The two-person show featuring Annem Zaidi and Emaan Mahmud opened at Full Circle Gallery on Friday and will continue till March 14.
"The artists don't know each other - they went to different schools, are of different ages and live in different cities - but I felt that the idea behind their work is similar," claimed exhibition curator Scheherezade Junejo.
Some of the artists' works were displayed side-by-side, an effect that helped create a parallel between Zaidi's white oil paintings on black canvas and Mahmud's black prints on a white backdrop. "What is similar between the two is that both have explored texture and skin," explained Junejo. "What I like the most about their work is that it is not about their culture or their gender, rather it is much more personal."However, that is where their similarities end. Mahmud used plastic bags and other items to create her artwork. Using the techniques she had learnt while studying printing at the Indus Valley, Mahmud used heat to transform plastic, compress it and then print it onto paper. The plastic she uses can only be used once and some of her works are on display for sale at the gallery.
"Each piece of work is a separate study altogether, which is why I find it so cool," said Junejo. "It's as if she has made something artificial into something organic. She has managed to give life to her art."
Mahmud talked like an artist who was incredibly proud of her work. "I have created my art from everyday stuff - stuff others consider trash - and I have turned it into art," she said, glowing with pride. "I previously used to work with fabric like gauze and mesh, but I wanted a change so I experimented with plastic." However, she was quick to clarify that there is no significance behind the use of plastic. "It has no meaning other than being an experiment with textures." Turning her attention to the work of the other artist, she said that Zaidi's work is simpler and more subtle than that of Mahmud. "It seems that her work seeks the comfort that comes with being faceless."
Zaidi, who resides in Lahore, was not present at the event but the curator felt that her work - a study of the female form, the bodies coated in darkness - is easier to understand. "It is a mixture of the beautiful and the grotesque," analysed Junejo. "Her work may not be as visually appealing as Mahmud's but it still manages to catch your eye and you cannot help but look at it. One is forced to notice the dark message that is hidden behind the paintings."
Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2014.
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