Art exhibition Ascension: Transcending the material realm

Brightly-painted birds are a recurring motif in the artwork.

Maryam Usman March 21, 2014
Art lovers look at artwork on display at Khaas Gallery. PHOTO: EXPRESS


Steeped in spirituality, an exhibition of paintings by an internationally-acclaimed artist opened at the Khaas Art Gallery on Thursday.

Titled “Ascension,” the exhibition features 11 pieces and marks Sana Arjumand’s first exhibition this year.

Coincidentally, it also happened to be the International Birds Day and the first official day of spring. At first glance, it would appear that the exhibition was an informal celebration of the season of chirpy birds and vibrant flowers but the artist had her own reasons for painting them.

“The birds are symbolic of angels,” said Arjumand, pointing to a painting. “They are on different levels - on the top, the mediator and then the manifest on earth,” she added. The birds, which appear in nearly all of the artworks, are painted in a rich palette comprising hues of sea green, royal blue, zesty orange and bloodshot red.

They flutter, drink nectar, fly and break free from shackles to rise again in a stunning kaleidoscopic fashion. In essence, they represent the human condition, emotions, aspirations and a form of rebellion that transcends the material world.

Gelling together into various forms including geometrical patterns, the paintings are layered with hand embroidery in some places and textured with heavy brush strokes in others. Other materials employed in the paintings are acrylic and oil paint and tea wash while the surfaces are vasli paper and canvas. The layers of paint and thread overlap and intertwine, perhaps representing the spiritual connection that binds all souls as one.

“Between water and sky” brings out the coral and the sky blue, blending in smoothly and contrasted with fine lines of ochre, red and white, a sort of metamorphosis of dream and realisation in the aviary realm.

Iffat, a fashion designer and visitor at the exhibition, complimented the artist’s style of merging distinct elements into a well-rounded collection.

“Some of the artworks are minimal, which lends them a distinct character. The miniature technique used by Sana is intricate,” said Babar Gul, the gallery curator.

A graduate of the National College of the Arts (NCA), Lahore, Arjumand has worked as an assistant lecturer at the NCA Rawalpindi. She has exhibited her work at home and internationally.

The current exhibition will continue till March 20, daily from 11:30am to 6:30pm.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2014.


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