When we are discussing the technique of ‘miniature’, not only does the unique use of skill and depiction of characters comes to one’s mind but also how certain stories and events are the concern of the visuals. Miniature painting today however, has visibly started to diversify; introducing a brighter and quiet a realistic color palette, with modern day settings into its realm as well rather than focusing solely on its traditional style in which the visuals were much dependent on the flatness of objects and figures and a unique, sober palette.
Ahmed Javed’s visuals from ‘Lahorenama’, a show that took place at Sanat gallery in Karachi on Wednesday, the 15th of August, however, not only address the traditional aspects of miniature painting but what makes them more interesting is the use of current day settings. Graduating from NCA in 2016, Javed has since opted to make tradition and heritage a part of his work. Curated by Adeel Uz Zafar, this body of work was about paying homage and honoring contemporary artists who Javed considers his ‘ustaads’ as he has taken inspiration from their work.
Making life-sized portraits of artists like Irfan Hasan, Imran Qureshi, Ali Kazim and many more, the visuals surround the artists and their life in their respective studio spaces. What needs to be noted in these visuals is the contrasting use of depth in specific areas; the use of flat perspective has been used on certain objects while a plain wash of color has been applied on clothes. What also needs to be observed is the use of details that have been given in areas like the flesh, the faces and on the art works that are being made by the artists in the portraits, taking the example of the portraits Imran Qureshi 1 or Irfan Hasan in which minute details have been drafted to create greater emphasis on the body of works and on the portraits of the artists themselves. Also, the eye-catching details of the pug in Irfan Hasan and the cockatoo in Ali Kazim are not only adding to the visual balance but are also creating an aura of personal space, which could not have been created any better without the presence of the pets.
Apart from creating a personal studio space, Javed’s visuals have a bizarre connotation to them, taking the example of the work titled R M Naeem, in which there is a crispness in the drawing but at the same time, a subdued color palette has been used along with a cluster of objects, creating a kind of complexity in the balance and ambience of the visual. Similarly, the work titled Risham Hosain Syed, a vast area has been treated with plain washes of color like the table, clothes and the carpeting but at the same time, stronger details have been given to the furniture and décor being depicted in the studio spaces hence, the focus seems to be shifting back and forth, leaving the viewer in an enigma.
Despite having ties with conventional miniature, his work seems to be having its own form of uniqueness. His work has not moved away from the classic side profiles and an angular composition and yet, it has a distinctive quality about it which categorizes it as contemporary, possibly because of the characteristics of a modern day human. His work speaks out in its own language and has a quality which blurs the line between reality and fiction; possibly because of the life-sized scale and the illustrated portraits.
The show will continue to be on view till the 29th of August at Sanat Gallery.