Moeen faruqi's show opens at Canvas Gallery. The exhibition will remain open until May 4th, 2023 Moeen Faruqi at Canvas Gallery, Karachi.Opening

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Moeen faruqi’s show opens at Canvas Gallery. The exhibition will remain open until May 4th, 2023

Moeen Faruqi at Canvas Gallery, Karachi.
Opening reception: Tuesday 25th. April 2023.
Exhibition remains open until May 4th. 2023.
Review by Paul-Mehdi Rizvi.

The richness of Moeen Fariqi’s imagery lies in two-dimensional fields constructed of color and line,on the one hand, and their marriage to story-telling, on the other. In this set of works, the artist has chosen to work in different media – watercolors, pen and ink, pigment, mixed media – and has adventurously allowed a fair amount of seepage from one technique to another, all the while letting a particular iconography hold narratives intact via figurative painting.

At this late stage of his career, it would be unfair to oversimplify Faruqi’s evolution as a linear progression up the step-ladder of progress. In reality, the shifts in his work are more akin to interlocking circles, as is formally evident in this exhibition.

Faruqi has always been painterly in his approach, which means to say that his palettes are carefully chosen for each work, and he is very aware of the operative values of primaries and the process of complementary juxtaposition. As such his work ranges from dark earth tones combined with green and yellow chartreuse, and Persian blue, to a more visually charged system of using contemporary near- fluorescent chrome, and other strident hues characteristic of acrylic paint. This chromatic usage amply signals the presence of disruptive forces and a harrowing decibility, both closely experienced in Karachi.

Fariqi mobilizes and allegorises existential horror and hypocrisy, however subtle and restrained the method may appear to be. When a speaking fish is depicted in one of the canvases, it is a trigger for the viewer to search out other small but significant anomalies embedded in the work, revealing snippets of an underlying stratum of psychological processes.

Considerations of art as expression – of art being in a dialectical relation with the environment – must be taken into account in Faruqi’s oeuvre. In this sense, the artist has been remarkably resilient, impervious to the temptations of outright abstraction: human and animal shapes are still vehicles of color – there being no such thing as color without form, a theory expounded by John Dewey in his seminal work ‘Art as Expression’, published in 1934.

Throughout the artist’s career, little attention has been paid to the fact that he is a known poet. This is a huge omission, since the nexus of poetry and imagery is an ancient one, given credence in classical philosophy, and further concretised by linguistic theory in our own times. The artist himself speaks of seeking out ‘colorful words’. There can be no doubt that his painted and drawn images are in essence carefully arranged vignettes and events that have counterparts in language itself. Indeed, the artist mentions an interest in the visual precision utilized by Zen and the Japanese Haiku aimed at acquiring a better understanding of the principles of reality, or producing a sudden, irreversible, spiritual awakening.

While Faruqi encourages a free reading of his work, it may be profitable to not fall into the trap of imagining interpretation to be an open field: the very word implies a carrying forth and back of meaning between living subjects. In short, Faruqi is, at the end of the day, deploying symbolism generated by a focus on the spoken word.

Faruqi states that certain works presented in the exhibition function as creative signposts at the moment, providing directions to new destinations. This can be seen in his simplified, Matisse-like exploration of flat coloured space, which is in some instances barely delineated by shy, unobtrusive lines. In order to play with and test a few limits at the same time, the artist has strategically positioned inexplicable patterns here and there, thus creating the dynamic rhythms so essential to poetry and true communication.