According to Dr. Seuss, a moment may only truly be valued once it becomes a memory. Every second experienced in the present immediately becomes the past, and despite the rather dismal, ever rushing path of time, the past follows placidly. To move forward is to leap into uncharted territory, where new experiences are discovered and unfamiliar episodes are met. In a wistful reverie however, the mind is fluid, dreaming of the exhilarating possibility of the future while longingly recalling what once had been.
Marjan Baniasadi, Maryam Baniasadi and Shah Abdullah Alamee’s group show at Sanat Gallery forms an emotional experience. The artists, all hailing from the National College of Art in Lahore, explore the passage of time, journeys and spiritual contemplation.
Marjan Baniasadi revisits the past through intimate, dreamy explorations of traditional Persian carpets, which embellish the floors of many homes in Iran, where the artist was born. Persian carpets have a rich and decadent history and form distinctive, culturally significant symbols, at the same time bestowing homes with character and a soft comfort. The artist subjectively studies the textiles as relics from a personal past. The rugs have been rendered in a nostalgic palette with wistful, worn colors that evoke the wooly comfort of the past; quiet violet, winter blue and fuzzy gray amongst others. The opulent texture seems battered by the heady pace of life as the shabby seams and threadbare corners come into view. The carpets seem heavy with a sense of memory and emotion, from the people who associate with them, frayed by thousands of footsteps journeying back and forth and absorbing intimate narratives. The battered textiles once silently observed a series of routines and artless moments that have permanently moved into the past, melancholy as daydreams from a vibrant existence are dwelled upon.
The artist’s sister, however, whimsically navigates her experiences in the present. Maryam Baniasadi explores a contemporary personal narrative, a bubbling reality that readily floats towards the future. Her playful work has an element of transience, exhibiting a series of everyday movements that physically and symbolically move forward, the wheels of time in motion. The bird will fly off the wire, the motorbike will soon zoom away and the scene, bursting with so much vitality will soon be another memory. Despite the ephemeral nature of the work, the artist intricately documents the daily mundane activities that render life with a chaotic familiarity, almost as if preserving the emotions and energy of her experiences before they too become the past. The places and happenings of the artist’s current reality have been rendered in a traditional miniature style, blurring the dichotomy between history and the present.
Shah Abdullah Alamee was also trained in miniature. The artist investigates personal existential concerns. According to Alamee, the body is a vessel and essentially a blank void that slowly flourishes as life is experienced and an identity is established. This distinctive identity lingers long after the body has perished and in several ways, transcends our physical form. There is an intricate balance in the artist’s body of work, where fluid, organic shapes collide with subtle symmetry. The imagery employed by the artist is highly mystical and haunting, almost like remnants from a secret, fantastical world. The traditional sensitivity of miniature penetrates the artist’s unique aesthetic language, which is informed by both Mughal and Persian styles.
Despite their differing aesthetic languages, each artist distinctively explores an emotional path fraught with memories, bewilderment and yearning. The collective body of work creates a poignant atmosphere, where the notion of time is comprehended a little more clearly.