Art exhibition: Capturing the mundane on canvas

Published: April 2, 2014
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Zia explores the intricacies of the human body in her latest work. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Zia explores the intricacies of the human body in her latest work. PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: 

Often one tends to overlook everyday happenings, disparaging them as mundane and uneventful. Dig a little deeper and you may realise patterns that leave a lasting impact in the midst of an ordinary life.

Tracing these intricacies in their own experiences, two contemporary artists namely Babar Gul and Samar Zia showcased their most recent artworks at an exhibition, “Reinforcement,” that opened at the Khaas Art Gallery on Tuesday.

While each artist portrays a distinct style, the individual collections complement one another, creating a visual balance for the viewer.

“My work is all about the complexities of life which I’ve tried to express in a simple manner,” said Gul. “I’ve a family, I’m studying and I’m working at two places so my mind keeps shifting. There are too many places and I’m multitasking so this whole body of work is like a shift,” he added.

His work is minimalist, employing a palette of solid colour, symmetry and geometrical shapes. One of his pieces fashioned like a side of the Rubik’s Cube hints at trying to make things work.

The artist, who is better known for exhibiting miniature art, has given a new spin to his work through this series which avoids narratives and leans more towards post-expressionism. All of his paintings are acrylic on canvas. Instead of spelling out the underlying detail in each piece, he lets the viewer decide and come up with their own interpretation of the work.

Zia’s work is somewhat similar in terms of the emotional connection it draws one into. “Most of these drawings are very personal. They come from first-hand experience spent in hospitals while tending to my mother,” she said, adding that watching medical procedures gave her a deeper awareness of God. “The thing we don’t realise is that when you open up a body, there’s a whole world inside.”

The series came about from the artist’s experience of seeing the body evolve, struggle and try to survive. There is a lot of medical paraphernalia from man-made to organic structures.

There are impressions of the human anatomy, imagery of organs such as lungs and the kidney and chalky hand-written notes in some of the pieces. The artist has embedded fuzzy layers and textures in the mixed media technique, perhaps to relate the chaotic sentiment. The recurring image of pomegranate serves as a metaphor for lungs, relating to similar structures of the organ and the fruit. Natural tones of red, purple and black dominate the art pieces.

“There’s an uncanny chemistry between the two artists and I enjoy that because the two bodies of work, instead of being jarring, combine in a subtle way and it’s fun to go back and forth,” said Momin Zafar, a visitor at the gallery.

His friend Roshaan Khattak commented on two of Gul’s pieces, “I like how it’s relevant to our times, where we stand, this cultural conflict we’re going through and what we are doing to resolve the issue of terrorism.”

The exhibition will continue till April 12 daily from 11:30am to 6:30pm except Sundays.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 2nd, 2014.

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