As a child we fumbled in the pure delight of coloring outside the lines, a stroke of red lavishly trudging along the surface of the page, with an innocent purple silently following in rebellion. The geographical function of lines bring with itself an immodest compulsion. As children we’ve traced out the borders of our nation in our notebooks, coloring the different provinces in bright colors, reducing geography to exercises in color. There was always someone prosaically bringing attention to the stark resemblance of the outlines of the map to a T-rex. Usually we’d see a vandalized map with immobile limbs stretching out with a mouth carved into a it. Our relationship with geography has been timid, almost caricatured into a docile pursuit of apathy. But it is in this relationship of improvised naivete we learn to color within the lines. As we understand the inelastic nature of territory itself we learn how to question the mobility within and outside of these lines.
To celebrate independence day Studio Seven brought together twenty artists as a ‘Tribute to Pakistan’. A montage of diverse artworks woven together. Each artist bringing attention to the different strokes that form the tapestry of our nation.
In modern times the economy of images itself provokes the periphery of thought itself, and the distillation of that allows for the didactic transmission of thought itself. The allure of the image of Quaid himself gives mystique to the birth of the nation itself. While the writing of history in itself is a fictive translation of struggle and separation alike, the image of Quaid constantly resurrect the ideals associated to the creation of Pakistan. Ahmer Tariq, Hina Tabbassum and Naish Rafi have appropriated the image as a tribute to the nation. They have channeled the discourse present in the way our history has been archived and have recreated the idyllic image of Quaid-e-Azam using different mediums. Anum Ashraf’s work follows in similar line, but offers recourse in the manner which she has arbitrarily depicted the these portraits we have grown up with. The blurring of faces and the archaic remains of the figures brings light to the alternative discourses that run parallel to the mainstream commodification of portraits associated with the freedom struggle.
Mahira Zaheer’s work depicts a portrait of Abdul Qadeer, who’s merits are associated to the pioneering of Pakistan’s nuclear project. The idyllic depiction against the map offers a traditional nostalgia which resonates in the way we have consumed the imagery associated to the forefathers of our nation. Hureen Akram and Saif Khan have also used portraiture to assert the contributions of our modern heroes. Abdul Sattar Edhi and Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s contributions to the humanitarian and literary fields is unsurpassed.
Salman Ahmed and Maham Syed’s work runs on an interesting tangent, since it also uses portraiture to offer tribute, but the figures are anonymous. Perhaps it is in this dichotomous representation of portraiture, we see the commonplace depiction of heroes in a synonymous context. It expands the threshold of the nation into it’s occupants. It s the allure of the anonymity itself that propels the intangible concept of struggle into it’s most distilled form.
Batool Zehra, Mariya Sheikh and Mazia Ahmed have used some form of female representation in their tribute. Mazia Ahmed’s depiction of the Kalash women evokes the tenacity of the nation’s diverse cultures. Interestingly, Sheikh offers a heroic persona to the woman with her play of light. With a divine reference, she enshrines her portrait with a majesty. While the woman herself is not recognizable, perhaps it plays on the idea of femininity on a larger scale.
Samina Mumtaz, Sana Hurrani, Hina Rasheed and Sana Nezam have created works that are subtle in their content, and artfully mastered into depictions of nature, architecture, and calligraphy.
Sana Durrani and Zeeshan Aslam’s work evoke a sense of calm. Durrani’s work appears to play on the idea of spaces and it’s residues, and offers an intimacy in it’s portrayal. An intimacy that allows the viewer to find their own meanings, while Aslam’s works plays on the grandeur of nature itself, it is commanding in they way the colossal mountains are contained within the frames.
As we continue to learn how to color within the lines, and learning still how to erase stray marks that spill outside the boundaries, Mina Haroon’s work offers redemption in the stringency of demarcation. The legend of Pakistan is woven in the vast terrain of our nation, each point leading to the creation of the lines host her occupants.
The different mediums and manners in which the artists have chosen to offer tribute is a testament to the fabric of our nation, colored in a rich green and pure white. Beneath it’s shadow live the tales that find themselves woven in words. Stories that are rife with legend and fiction. Words perhaps are the way we can color outside the lines, they travel with the author and leave its traces behind. Emblazoned trails of rich hues stretch the perimeters of the nation, and somehow the boundaries become elastic. It contracts and expands as her inhabitants inhale and exhale.