International Women’s Day: Alliance Francaise harbours Karachi’s art on women

French consul-general says exhibition aims to remind people of the importance of women.


Minerwa Tahir March 07, 2015
The Grandeur Art Gallery, in collaboration with the New World Concepts, organised an exhibition at Alliance Francaise de Karachi featuring works of more than 60 artists. The show was held to mark the International Women’s Day. PHOTOS: COURTESY NEW WORLD CONCEPTS

KARACHI: The art gallery at Alliance Francaise de Karachi provided a glimpse into art both on and by Karachi’s women.

The Grandeur Art Gallery in collaboration with New World Concepts hosted an art exhibition, titled ‘Inspiring Women’, on Friday to mark the International Women’s Day that is celebrated across the world on March 8. The show comprising works of around 61 artists was inaugurated by French consul-general Francois Dall’Orso. The exhibition ended on Saturday.

According to Dall’Orso, the exhibition was a contribution to remind people of the importance of women. “At times women can do even better than men,” he said. “This is not something that we should already have in mind but, if not, we should be reminded.”

The curator of the exhibition, Neshmia Ahmad, talked about how she has been conducting an annual exhibition since the last four years on International Women’s Day. “Earlier, we used to display only female artists’ works,” she told The Express Tribune. “This is, however, the first time that we included male artists who painted the female form.”

There was a variety of works on display since the works of so many artists were brought together under one roof. The focus of the works was either on women or on the issues that women artists have commented on through art. For example, the masterpiece by Talat Dabir that sat in a corner but attracted so many viewers was a comment on suppression and violation of rights. It comprised numerous little clay sculptures that depicted heads on a closer look but also appeared to be trees from a distant look. Moreover, there was a clear division in the middle of the painting. On one side of the division were heads of people looking frail and helpless. One the other, were those with their faces covered. “This is the Taliban on one side and the poor suppressed people on the other,” said Orooj Ahmed Ali, the owner of the artwork who had put it up for resale.

Another interesting and unique piece was that of Rubina Malkani. Inspired by miniature, she said that she attempted to modernise the art form. She talked about her untitled piece made of teawash and opaque watercolour on wasli. It seemed to be a comment on the nurturing nature of a woman as female figures could be seen watering plants.

Talking about women on International Women’s Day, the artist expressed dissatisfaction with the way women are treated. “In Pakistan, women don’t have any status” she said. “Even worldwide, women still have to go a long way.”

On the other hand, artist Sabiha Nasruddin had a completely different viewpoint. When asked how she portrays women in her artworks, the expressionist said: “I portray them as strong, wilful and focused.” One of her works on display seemed to speak of her positive outlook. It was a landscape depicting trees. The use of green and yellow made it look lively and emitted messages of happiness. “I have been painting for a very long time but don’t exhibit my works too often,” she told The Express Tribune. “I paint women, flowers and landscape. I paint Pakistan.”

One of the most intriguing works was that made by Mansoor Rahi. His work was an interesting combination of cubism and abstraction. You can find female faces among the different shapes and elements of the artwork. Talking to The Express Tribune, the artist said that he sees potential in women. “Regardless of what class they belong to, women are beautiful, strong and powerful.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2015.

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