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In Praise Of Reality, Shadows And Everything Else

Work of art in its essence is a conversation: with other human beings, surroundings, times. But more than that it is a dialogue between the maker and his/her material, medium, imagery and ideas. A creative person initiates with unknown and after completing his/her work, arrives at a stage that still lies at the threshold of mystery; open for innumerable interpretations, explanations and encounters.

In a sense it is the audience, viewer or spectator who puts the last layer on the art piece, since his/her understanding makes the work relevant, and adds a new content with each new contact. It seems that the graduating students of 2016 from the Department of Fine Art at NCA believeand practice in holding a meaningful discourse with general public, so the art coming from that institution, in place of being exclusive – or reclusive activity – assumes the position and prestige of being a shared experience.

Hence theirDegree Show 2016conveysthis desire to communicate with a larger audience using multiple means, and a variety of voices. Works created in the form of paintings, miniature paintings, prints, sculptures, installations, video installations and drawings reassert the notion of art without boundaries or restrictions. The work produced by these students, majoring in four disciplines of Fine Art(Painting, Miniature painting, Sculpture, Printmaking) which is being displayed from 19th January to 3rd February 2017 at the College venue,confirms the fact that the endeavour of art making is a passage from personal to public; journey from the solitude of studio to the open arena of art world.

Some of the prominent features and concerns in the works of this year’s graduating students range from city to rural, and from body to gender. One comes across experiments with material investigation, and issues such as identity, faith and politics. Works dealing with urban condition, perception of human anatomy, presence of pain, changing face of nature, and different narrative possibilities are also part of this year’s display. Along with this, a major component of the Degree Show 2016 is examining the act of art making, by extending the views, notions and possibilities of genres.

In a total of 43 students, some works appear more prominent, even though in totality the exhibition communicated a high level of students’ command in their pictorial language and an urge to explore new ways of saying, though the language of expression this year has been subtle and self referential. For example Suleman Faisal’s sculptures are very impressive: particularly a moving machine, that seems to have a life, mind, and soul of its own – since no one could direct, predict or control its movement. Likewise Hafiz AttiqueurRehman’s two pieces look remarkable due to their execution and idea. Inspired from the terrorists’ attack on Army Public School in Peshawar, he has created installations with burnt books and charred takhties. Both arranged in different numbers and separately, communicate the residue of human lives, since language (with its manifestation in books and writing tablets) is solely a human attribute.

Current political situation is also addressed in some students’ works, for instance the rendering of barriers and barricades in Neha Ashraf Syed’s miniature paintings. She has composed and superimposed all sorts of barriers: from barbed wires to security gates, sand sacks, and police check posts. This change of society, and urban culture caused by political factors is addressed in a number of other works too, especially in the miniature paintings of MahzaibBaloch in which the barren land of Balochistanis blended with the traditional textile patterns of that area, thus man and nature coexist in her work. The power of nature is explored in the paintings of FazilAmanas well since in his haunting nightscapes the views of northern areas of Pakistan are invoked – rather transformed into melancholic vision that is disturbed and shattered by the regular drone attacks and aerial strikes.

Night or evening fascinatesKiranWaseem too who has painted series of small surfaces, which appear to be travelogues of a person from a fast moving vehicle in the city. Traces of trees, poles, constructions, occasional clouds and empty roadside are convincingly captured in her paintings. The city assumes a major source of attention and attraction for Muzammil Khan, who focuses on the destruction of houses in Karachi and portrays these in a remarkable manner, demonstrating his command in depicting details, as well as his inclusion of surrealistic imagery in addition to adding actual cut outs of painted surfaces to harmonize his subject matter.

The destruction, from city to human body is observed in the large paintings of SadamMurad in which different human figures are rendered as if their outer skin has become a rough – almost plaster like surface. His choice of a particular chromatic (dull and subdued) palette has turned his work into unusual visuals. Human body emerges a main motif in the paintings of AmnaRahman too, who has illustrated herself and characters from her surroundings in such a sensitive manner that familiar faces have turned into metaphors of human relationship, sexuality, alienation etc. The painterly quality of these works makes them into interesting, exciting, yet uncanny, disturbing and disarming images. The female body, or focus on the artist’s form is alsoobserved in the sculptures of Shajia Fatima, in which the almost abstract forms remind of the human body, non-existent space betweenits parts and certain organs. The body, but of a man, becomes a ghost image for Abdul Aziz, as he in his monochromatic surfaces treats it as shapes that, like smoke,evaporate, yet leave an unforgettable mark in our experience. The same kind of shapes is observed in the paintings of Noor ul Ain, large abstract surfaces, derived from her observation of rocks and stones. But she transforms her observation into compositions that are lyrical notes towards the act of painting – or art making.

The works by these and all other graduating students confirm the level of skill, sophistication of solutions and refinement of ideas, but by and large these affirm that art is like a mirror; or is the mirror, so not only it reflects the world around; it also represents itself, each time in a new attire, situation and sensibility. Like the Degree Show 2017 of Fine Art Department at NCA!

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