Art nowadays is a psychological experience, encompassing more than just the sense of sight. It is a combination of kinesthetic and tactile experience. Senses are manipulated to have a psychological effect on the viewer, or, the individual or audience chooses to be affected by the psychological impact created by the artist. Performance art and genres like installation art have reached a stage where one wonders at the vast unexplored boundaries of human consciousness and the subconscious.
Pakistani artists are fast catching up to in the mass global transformation and evolution of art worldwide. Our young artists show agility not only in the media they utilize to express creativity but in complex and sophisticated concepts. Manual skill is becoming irrevelvant. Recently Satrang Gallery held an exhibition of three upcoming artists: Ayesha Rumi, Sana Durrani and Minaa Haroon.
Sana Durrani worked with archival printing paper and she created a three-dimensional effect by layering paper. In other places, she has used wood cut to enhance the virtual effect of small prints. Though the images are photographs in some places she has rendered the images with paint. Her works are smaller sized spaces of her abandoned home which she revisited after fourteen years. Nostalgia associated with this space produces a psychological response. She has placed a light behind all the images to add to the virtual effects of all the images. She adds “I want to create an impact on the viewer so that they can empathize with how I felt when I revisited the space associated with childhood memories.” The images show isolated composition of objects, seemingly mundane objects found in an old abandoned house. The effect is forlorn and melancholic. The images where one is looking through open doors and windows with sunlight streaming through them creates an aura which is so realistic that the virtual world of nostalgia becomes real. The vintage compositions of objects like a broken chair or a rusty old metal luggage box are surreal and a feeling of isolation reminds one of the surrealist paintings of Georgio de Cherico, which deal with isolation and nostalgia but with a strong feeling of empowerment and freedom. Hence Sana is dealing with a personal concept with very up to date and modern material. Her work is an attempt to make the audience encompass and empathize with her own private space.
Mina Haroon’s work is about architectural spaces of different cities she has visited. She explains that she has “taken cutting of doors and open spaces from the buildings I have visited around the world and used them to replicate pastes on art card sheets. I used cuttings as a reference point for these three dimensional structures.” She adds that she has taken the idea of perspective from miniature paintings. The thickness is inspired by how a wasli is made and different tones of tea washes are given to create variation of tones in the three-dimensional juxtaposition. She adds “I have captured a glimpse of the places I have visited, from Venice to Multan. These are a mapping of photographic references from a view top perspective.”
Hence Mina Haroon’s images are a commemoration of cityscapes from an aerial view. They are a cartography simplified to the point of abstraction. One can draw a comparison between Piet Mondrian’s simplification of a representational form to a non-representational form to reach its essence of spiritual order – his transition from an apple tree to a composition of red, blue and yellow shapes.
Ayesha Rumi’s work was dictated by her concept or rather her motives. She says she “wanted to change the way people look at art. People have a very rudimentary perception of art being beautiful and inviting and merely utilized for its beautification. The masses have the perception that art is static. This is a misconception. To convey my concept, I used a very complex technique. I used chemicals which are found in the sapphire and lapis lazuli. I treated my image with these chemicals and these colors transformed the color of the image to blue and the black and white images were treated with elements found in silver. These chemical are photosensitive chemicals and with time the will transform the images into mark making caused by the interplay of paper and the chemicals. It will be a perpetual transformation not remaining static in one state. The chemical will creates its own image.” She talks about the concept: “I have taken images from real life. Activities which are not stationary but a constant state of change. I have used UV light that creates these photographs and will also be the result of their ultimate transition.”
She adds she has used images of our people and paintings from the European Renaissance era, edited them and juxtaposed modern elements with the original backgrounds of the paintings. She talks about these juxtapositions: “I am trying to convey that no era is static in art making. In fact, one transition leads to another; hence the era doesn’t disintegrate, it just takes a new form.”
Ayesha has merged the present with the past era by placing modern elements in the masterpieces of the Romantic eras, such as the concept of the sacred and the profane. One image shows a woman dressed in red and another a nude woman modeled like the nude Maja by Francisco Goya. Another interesting example is the image of the crucifixion of the Christ with background taken from a scenery in Model Town Lahore. Ayesha takes Rembrandt’s Bacchus and transposes her own face on the boy’s face giving the impression of constant evolution. She adds: “these images are not necessarily only art works but artifacts as they will be narrating history through constant transitional state.”
‘Illusion of Reality’ ran at Satrang Gallery, Islamabad in April 2017. Images courtesy Satrang Gallery.