Heritage forms a large part of a nation's story - it is a combination of both its past and present. But in the eyes of an artist, it is another platform for imagination and wishful thinking. Three such artists exhibited their work on Pakistan's rich heritage at Majmua Art Gallery, employing colours, history and artistic technique to their benefit.
A walk around the gallery feels like a transition of time, taking you on a journey from the past to the present and then back to the past. There were colonial buildings in the backdrop of the busy city followed by miniature paintings of the Mughal era. Then came the classic red-brick buildings of Lahore - it was like a timeline against time, wanting to move forward yet can't help but reminiscing about the time gone by.
Read: Where do we stand?: Artist sees only a society of talking parrots
Emerging artist Abdul Hameed depicted the hurly-burly city life using oil on canvas. Life in the city, with its rickshaws, taxis, and a vendor driving his pushcart with the grey blue sky in the background, leaves a soothing impact on the viewer. The pylons, the hanging wires and the runny face of the streets produces the atmosphere of a rainy season, when calm settles in after a heavy, stormy day. "These are quaint, simple colonial-style buildings," said curator Mehreen Ilahi. "There is not too much of a busy life. It's simple yet elegant."
Oil on canvas was artist Naushad Alam's choice of medium as he exhibited the façade of Wazir Khan Mosque with its characteristic balconies and pigeons flying past it. "Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore has always been my personal favourite display of architecture," said the graphic-designer-turned-artist. Alam's work is distinctive, thanks to the use of vivid hues of reds, yellows, oranges and greens and geometrically aligned rooftops. A bird's eye view of the rooftops gives a feeling of vastness and tangible depth so much so that the viewer yearns to look what lies beyond the skyline and apparent rooftops. Another unique yet recurring aspect of Alam's work is the extensive use of red bricks. One can see the silhouette of a woman forming on a swing and the red bricks spread over the entire walls in rich colour.
Read: Islamic art: An eclectic mix of calligraphy
A tad bit different from the oil and canvas display was Shiraz Ashraf's pencil and ink depiction of the Mughal era. Apart from the drawings of nobles with their traditional darbari [court] attire, the time of the Mughal dynasty is brilliantly captured with the grandiosity of the Gateway of Hyderabad Fort, 1844. Aristocrats armed with rifles, while those lesser in ranks carrying shields and swords, depicted the activity taking place outside the fort.
The exhibition continues till July 31.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2015.