Not a pretty picture: Graduating students delve into pain and darkness to enter the real world

By the looks of it, the students behind the Fine Art Academic Show 2010 appear to have lived up to their education.


Rabia Ashfaque December 05, 2010

KARACHI: They have been taught to explore what lies beyond the conventional. And, by the looks of it, the students behind the Fine Art Academic Show 2010 appear to have lived up to their education.

The final-year students of the Fine Arts programme at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture have yet to attend their convocation, which is set for December 11. However, judging by the commercial success of the ongoing thesis show, which started on November 29, it appears that they have already made their mark on Karachi’s art scene.

Just four days into the show, the red dots discreetly placed next to a large number of the pieces indicated that they had already found new owners. Standing next to their body of work, the 19 artists, who created some truly exciting pieces in their thesis projects, seemed to be bearing the weight of their first step into the art community with confidence. Answering the queries of the visitors who moved from one display to another between 9 am and 5 pm, the young artists explained their concepts with all the patience and passion that had driven them to complete their projects over the year.

Muhammad Ali, who explored the sensuality of the male figure in his thesis, said that his work is “a cathartic outburst of feelings and [about] the complexities of human sexuality”. His concept was based on “a celebration of emotional and objective cleansing that stemmed from my own experiences through which I gained control over my own sexuality by making use of a twisted manifestation of androgyny”.

Mariam Maqsood, whose work explores “the negative connotations attached to the donkey”, used the animal’s “conquered, oppressed nature” as a metaphor for the society she lives in.

“Living in Karachi, it is rare for a day to go by without a donkey in sight,” she said. “Like rickshaws, crows and speeding cars, the braying of a donkey is part of what keeps this city alive,” Maqsood added.

Distinction holder Urooj Mustafa said that her body of work revolved around the idea of creating aesthetically appealing space dividers. “The dividers are all hand built and are constructed in modules; they are a combination of different experiments of how a space can be divided,” said Mustafa, who used mid-range stoneware clay to create her artwork.

Meanwhile Mahin Hassan worked with the idea of loss in her thesis. “My work is process-based. Putting pen to paper, I let the frustration inside me pour out visually,” she said.

Syeda Shayaan Meer worked with the idea of “gender role reversal” as a reaction to “the male gaze” in her thesis. “My submissive women take in the loud expressions, the crude gestures of men and demand from all those around me the acceptance of my existence as an equal,” Meer said.

“In pursuit of narrating my personal experiences — based primarily on the deceptive nature of people — I juggled between unveiling and yet veiling my narratives,” said Aaiza Alam. “In the process, I started conforming to this human characteristic of deceiving others.” For Alam, the question no longer pertained to what a painting said, but the people who look at it and what they expected to see.

“My work is a playful commentary of casual occurrences, which forms one’s identity. As a [part] of a community, I have been able to observe and record these casual interventions,” said Samina Halai, who believes that when one tries to deviate from the framework of a discipline, the environment begins to recreate itself.

Marvi Malik examined man’s relationship to his external surroundings “through the lens of blurring the distinctions between the human body and space.” According to Malik, “in a world where the industrial surrounds one physically, man and machine are increasingly one.” She used the grid as a symbol of this interaction. “The figure is represented as a bizarre hybrid, stripped of various body parts which are dependant on the never-ending grid extensions to reach into a void where nothing is as it seems,” said Malik.

Tuba Zaki explored a variety of kitchen utensils to depict aggression. “I feel like I am trapped within, yet no one can imprison my thoughts. The narrative is focused on exploring the relationship between frustration and stability,” she said.

Ailya Moosavee’s work is based on her personal struggle to run away from the labels that are thrust upon her while Tashna Salim addresses the issue of women rights in her work.

Distinction holder Sammer Sultan’s work revolved around the relationship between the individual and the collective. “It’s the idea of infinity that gets smaller and smaller, at the same time becoming a larger whole,” said Sultan.

Sara Mahmood’s work was a statement on the apathy of society. “Each piece is a moment of abuse, frozen in time,” she said.

“Reality is something that I attribute with disgust; I translate this idea in my work through the use of blemishes, stitches, scaring, wounds and distortion, as physical symbols for inner turmoil and self loathing,” said Nidha Tariq.

“My work is based on multiple units which come together to form an installation. It aims to show simple forms develop [into a] movement,” said Zuna Altaf.

Meanwhile, Ayesha Durrani explored “a language beyond words” in her thesis. “Through the [exploration of] the relationship [between] me and my cat, I have shown a language that is beyond words and is more fulfilling,” she said.

The Fine Art Academic Show 2010 — which is being curated by Fine Art Department coordinator Adeela Suleman —  will continue till December 10 (excluding Sundays).

Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2010.

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