Currently on display at Satrang Gallery is a group show titled “Fragmented epiphanies” curated by Zahra Khan, featuring six Pakistani artists. The premise of the show is that when living in a world where words, visuals and information is constantly bombarded in our direction, shrapnel is bound to get lodged in some corner of our brain. And it is this victimization that has been given a creative outlet and presented in this show.
The show has managed to put together a number of narratives and opinions through this diverse group of artists and the point of the show does seem to come forward in most of the works.
Mohsin Shafi’s work is as usual playful and humorous, but read the titles a bit carefully and you tend to realize the dark side of this artist’s mind and the work that he is presenting. Point in case, ‘Confessions of a Centerfold’ which shows off a trendy model, with sloppy men around her, with a traditional haveli in the background, hinting either to the numerous stories of many a model’s origins that one hears or can simply be written off as a possible set for a shoot. The subjects of his work, in his typical style, are either masked by a box or have their faces wiped off, so as to make it a tad easy for the observer to place their own self within the artist’s scenario.
Sehr Jalil describes her work as “flurry of everyday randomness” and this is strongly conveyed in the series ‘Our Home’. Another interesting piece of hers ‘The Three fountains’ takes on the random quips one tends to hear in the course of a day by hinting towards religious sentiments and promises of heaven.
Rabeya’s work deals with certain emotions that one tends to have on particular days and normally puts aside as wanderings of the mind. Her ‘Calendar’ series evokes such emotions in the observer. In all the works, her work for this particular observer remains the most abstract.
It is however in the work of Saba Khan, Shameen Arshad and Inaam Zafar that the true essence and concept of the show comes forward.
Saba Khan has taken those oh-so-many ironies that one tends to find in our urban development. A ‘Dream Town’ which might inspire images of French windows, good ventilation and plumbing, while boasting a good access and wide lanes, can just as well be a two windowed box, with not even running water to its credit. Saba’s work critiques on the globalization that is fast becoming the ultimate goal of an entire society. The Roman villa stands as the ultimate symbol for success and Western approved sophistication that seems to have taken a life of its own in our suburbs and can be seen given a disapproving nod in a piece titled ‘Stay Blessed’.
Shameen Arshad’s work, on the other hand, has the potential to make one experience contradictory emotions at the same time. Her work utilizes text to make a point about how deep is our dependence on the accurate communication that one expects from a text. The entire purpose of the existence of a text is to convey information, but what happens when text simply lets go of that purpose? This is the question that one can answer if you take a look at Shameen’s work. The inability to decipher ignites in one emotions that border on frustration. She proves her point through the presentation of her works, including ‘Eulogy’ and ‘Like a Restless Child; Never quite satisfied’.
In Inaam Zafar’s work, much like Mohsin’s work, you can find a lot of the clichés of what one tends to hear presented before us, but once again, as is the dictum of contemporary art, this would depend on the observer’s personal experience. Inaam’s work delves into cynicism minus one work, which unfortunately makes no sense in his own body of work as well as in the overall scheme. His ‘Scientific ethos’ embodies the many words and clichés that one hears in a lifetime, not forgetting the ironies that many of these statements convey. His medium of work primarily being rubber erasing and magazine collages gives the observer hints about his interest in environmental issues. This work is completely in sync with the concept of the show, but the clash comes in his work titled ‘Policymaker’s seascape’. While the work holds all the same concerns of ‘Scientific Ethos’ – it can only be dubbed as a loner in the grand scheme of the show.
Overall, the show brings together various different energies and thoughts in one space. The premise of the show undoubtedly is a challenge to convey the subjectivity of such thoughts and what randomness decides to stay back in some corner of our brain is a very arbitrary process and to put such a thing on canvas, for all to understand, is no mere feat.
The show continues till the 15th of May 2016 at Satrang Gallery, Islamabad.