Art exhibition: Creating an aesthetic allure with abstract and cubist forms

Horses figure prominently in Raza’s work.

Two master pieces of Mashkoor Raza on display at Nomad Art Gallery, Islamabad on Thursday. PHOTOS: MUHAMMAD JAVAID


An exhibition of artwork by the critically-acclaimed artist Mashkoor Raza will go up on display at the Nomad Art Gallery on Thursday. Over 38 paintings and drawings have been spread out across the gallery in a glowing tribute to the artist.

“The current series covers four areas in Raza’s work,” said the gallery curator Nageen Hyat. “There are horses, women, women and horses and contemporary styles of calligraphy,” she added.

Raza has received a Pride of Performance award for his contribution to the realm of art, both at home and internationally for abstract and cubism, which carry his inimitable signature. Whereas his artistic career spans over three decades, his choice of subjects have not varied much.

This choice, however, may spring from the artist’s subconscious mind. “I used to go horseback riding in my youth,” said Raza, who is based out of Karachi. “At some point, I began drawing and painting and one thing led to another. I think artists have a trademark symbol they are identified with.”

He started out with painting horses in abstract, adding figurative form and then going all-out with free strokes of horses in polo matches, exuding action and energy.

To the artist, horses serve both as a subject and symbol in his paintings. He portrays them as a symbol of beauty, power and speed and amplifies the impact in drawing to unveil details in small and large canvases alike. Abstraction indicates a departure from reality in depiction of imagery in art.

He alluded to a widespread reluctance in displaying paintings depicting figurative forms in houses, which has been somewhat of a challenge for the artist. He has, however, followed his own style to create aesthetically-pleasing images.

“Good drawing is the foundation of good painting; if you can’t draw well, then you can’t be a good painter,” remarked Raza.

Each of the pieces appears to be a moment captured in vivid, surrealistic detail. From the graceful movements of horses to their brute force in intense polo matches, from glamorous nudes dancing with reckless abandon, lying in melancholy poses or kneeling in submission, the essence and mood varies throughout the collection.

From fine-line drawings to bold strokes of charcoal-black paint, each piece evokes strong emotion. The technique varies from abstract painting to fine line-hashing. A juxtaposition of abstract and cubist components lend this work an aesthetic allure, creating a powerful aura.  An effortless continuity in free strokes and balanced contrasts stand out as the artist’s signature.

Raza has been holding solo exhibitions almost every year since he graduated from Karachi School of Art in Fine Arts in 1972 with flying colours. His paintings have been selected for the art collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The current exhibition will continue till May 6 from 10:30am to 7pm.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2014.


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