Art is often considered to appeal to a niche, or to a specific group with acquired tastes. However, one cannot deny that a desire for understanding and engaging with art often also appears in the general public, particularly in those who are inclined towards imagery and subject matter that personally appeals to them. A diverse group of five women artists displayed their paintings in a group show titled ‘360 Degree’. The show opened at ArtKaam Gallery in Karachi on September 28, 2018.
Fariya Zaeem looks at artistic exploration in the form of abstraction. Her multi-layered, multi-coloured pieces use free-form shapes and lines to construct a foreground and background without any tangible subject. Using the medium of acrylic on paper, she first applies a watery layer of colour underneath and thick, bold strokes of darker colour on top, using negative space to elevate the chaotic movement of her focal point. Pieces which apply a more mature understanding of colour schemes and hues, like that of mint, Prussian blue and ivory, work better than other pieces with basic colours red, blue green and yellow merged together.
Marium Khan’s paintings present a picturesque setting of gardens and sand-stone exteriors. Reminiscent of the setting of a classical romance film or novel, she uses generic, ‘pretty’ imagery of arches, gates and lavish gardens with abundant shrubbery and flowers, perhaps specifically aimed to be pleasing to the eye. Her work depends not so much on artistic exploration, but more on attaining meticulous detailing brick-by-brick and leaf-by-leaf in each painting, creating a sense of homeliness and nostalgia in an exterior setting.
Nimra Shahid states that she chose to represent the human figure in an ‘ambiguous’ manner. Her main focus in creating said ambiguity comes from the use of fabric. Shahid’s work carries similarities to, and perhaps also borrows imagery from, works by artist Scheherazade Junejo. Albeit not matching Junejo’s finesse, Shahid also uses imagery of the human figure draped in fabric, aiming to highlight human emotion through the use of textures. Also unlike Junejo’s vibrant fabrics, Shahid primarily depicts white fabric, giving her work a sense of ghostliness and discomfort.
Taking her inspiration from spirituality and Sufism, Sadaf Farasat depicts the iconic imagery of a twirling Dervish. Mostly using colour schemes of ochre and rust, her oil paintings appear muted and somber, focusing only on the faceless Dervish’s whirling movement. Each of her paintings has been given the title of a quote by Sufi poet Rumi, highlighting Farasat’s sense of connection to her spiritual and religious beliefs.
Lastly, choosing a subject that has been an area of interest for many artists before her, Syeda Zainab Taj paints horses, being inspired by their ‘free spirit’, ‘strength’ and ‘energy’. Her acrylic paintings carry a sense of 2-dimensionality, using stark black outlines and patchy strokes. Again finding similarities to another artist, Taj’s horses possibly borrow from Mashkoor Raza’s paintings of horses, which carried similar colour schemes of red, white, black and blue, but again, having a different sense of refinement. Each horse is painted while in movement, aiming to capture the vigor of its natural form.
All five artists present a reflection of their individual inclination to art, approaching their work in a manner that speaks to them on a personal level. Although using common subject matter, each artist’s particular imagery has somehow always remained popular among the masses and general public, whether for adorning walls with art or for basic admiration.