The show ‘Diverse Dimensions’ at Satrang Art Gallery in April showcased new talent from National College of Arts, Lahore and Rawalpindi. The show was a compilation of some of the best of the graduating class of 2015 including Fatima Batool Kazmi, Syed Haider Ali, Ayesha Akbar, Khadijah Azhar, Usman Malik, Rabia Ehsaan, Hira Siddiqui, Mohammad Ibrahim and Shireen Rasul. The artists put up an aggressive and bold collection presenting their respective ideas, exploring several different mediums, surfaces and sizes. The exhibition served as a platform for the artists to disclose that art was no longer just about applying paint on a canvas.
Usman Malik talks about the evolution of natural forms through time using actual organic substances such as the use of a dried up goat’s stomach, beautifully blended with the rest of the composition. The artist’s incorporation of real organic form is worth admiring. The work possessed a subtle beauty, with his small perfectly placed compositions on untreated wood.
Rabia Ehsaan took a brave approach to discussing cultural as well as individuality crisis. The artist’s tiresome task of covering all items in a singular pattern has paid off. She talks about how the work is of a very personal nature, yet catered to other individuals. She talks about how traveling around Pakistan in her childhood confused her about her notions of ethnicity and the idea what is called “home”. The immense use of pattern created this disorientation.
The collection consisted of exciting images made by Syed Haider Ali, revealing his inspiration from manmade structures or construction sites completely in tune to what one sees everyday yet holding a certain mysterious touch. The artist claims to have picked up different scenes from his environment, places that he has visited, yet the buildings seem imaginary or dream like.
Khadijah Azhar astonished the viewers with flawless portraitures on reflective steel. Her work is a revelation of her own world; how she perceives her life. Her pieces revolve around different human emotions. It documents the growth and changes in her life. Her images shared the mysticism as that of Haider’s work. Both the artists have revealed incidents from their life; one through realistic self-portraits, the other by depicting the concrete jungle he lives in.
At opposite end of the gallery was Shirin Rasul’s work, which was a combination of several mediums. Her images present what she describes as a race that is the fusion of the human form and other creatures to create an underwater world or an alternative reality which is out of the grasp of humans. Her work seems to be what one would see in sci-fi movies.
Muhammad Ibrahim created interactive works where the painting was what the visitor perceived it to be. He filled a canvas with several different objects and let the viewer weave the story. The pieces consist of vast imagery from figures to airplanes creating an intense visual vocabulary revealing the artist’s right to put whatever he wanted onto his canvas.
Similarily, Fatima Batool Kazmi has broken out of the bounds of conventional art. Her images stop people in their paths. Her passionate, wild strokes gave form to very powerful imagery representing her “stream of consciousness”. The images had the ability to overwhelm viewers as they seemed to document the chaos inside the artist’s mind. She employed the medium as never seen before.
Hira Siddiqui has developed an interesting approach to viewing old celebrated artworks playing around with their compositions, sizes and placement. Her aim is to “extract the soul of worldwide famous paintings” and recreate them in completely different mediums and techniques.
Ayesha Akbar draws inspiration from the medium of photography. Akbar’s work questions the idea of art. She says she “tried to stretch the boundaries between the image you confront and the image you recall which created ambiguity”. Ayesha’s imagery has a dark mystifying aura, making it hauntingly beautiful. The variations in size completely changed one’s perception of two identical images.
The show was quite a refreshing step away from what is usually displayed in galleries, offering immense variety; and something for everyone. A great amount of people were seen to walk away satisfied. The pieces weren’t just aesthetically pleasing but forced viewers to think more about the nature of art today. The new graduates have lead to the conception of fresh viewpoints challenging the preconceived notions of what is art.
‘Diverse Dimensions’ was shown at Satrang Gallery, Islamabad, from 10-20 April 2015.