The negativity that surrounds superstitions

Published: October 30, 2010
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A semi-clad woman depicted in a painting by Ahsen Asif during an exhibition at Khaas . PHOTO: FILE

A semi-clad woman depicted in a painting by Ahsen Asif during an exhibition at Khaas . PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Living in a society that has for centuries put their faith in the power of Pirs and talismans, artist Ahsen Asif highlights the negativity that surrounds such superstitions. His latest collection, “Conjuring Desolation,” featuring nude art is on display at Khaas Gallery till November 8.

‘As an artist I have always seen the female figure as an organic form and a representation of nature. Hinting at the mysteries of ancient history, I have attempted to symbolise and to capture this femininity,’ said Asif. The Lahore-based artist urges the viewers not to view his collection as naked art, as instead of exposing the female body, he conceals it with his colour palette.

Sheba Afghani, of the health section of The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) said, “These paintings are very interesting.

The nudes are not shocking because their faces are innocent and merge in with the background.”

Hammad Rais, a local software engineer at the exhibition said, “Nude paintings are not easy for everyone and the quality of appreciation is very low. This makes it difficult for the artist as well because the views are limited.”  Terming Asif’s work as unique, he said “the blending of colours is limited and yet produces a great texture.”

While highlighting the wisdom, elegance and mysticism of a woman, the artist depicts the vulnerability felt by women as they seek refuge under the spells of artificial protection of talismans. “It is the misery of our society that leads people to turn towards artificial forms of protection,” said Asif.

Depicting vivid astrological symbols in the background, the artist works within a very limited colour palette to conjure up not only aesthetically pleasing compositions, but raise some fundamental problems within our society. “It’s only part of the culture that I’m depicting, and even though it’s all psychological, it defines many mystical aspects of our society.” Shaky beliefs he said “are destructive and are leading our society towards illiteracy”.

The artist is fascinated by the miracle of birth and highlights a woman’s womb in his work, almost making it holy. “Anything that has the power to reproduce makes it very close to God’s heart, and therefore the beauty and attraction of a woman lies in her ability to give birth,” the artist added. Through his compositions, the artist expresses the emotive and intimate nature of a woman’s ability to give birth.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2010.

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