Landscapes Redefined

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Landscapes Redefined

The show opened at Full Circle brought together visionary artists who challenge conventional notions of land, showcasing innovative techniques The

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The show opened at Full Circle brought together visionary artists who challenge conventional notions of land, showcasing innovative techniques

The curator has skillfully assembled a group of artists who explore the theme of land in their work, delving into personal, social, and political narratives. These artists examine land from various perspectives, including “Home,” “Spatial Fields,” and “Conceptual/Imagined Landscapes,” using their art to symbolize contemporary metaphors (Courtesy curator’s note/Full Circle Gallery, August 2023).

This captivating exhibition showcased the works of Aqsa Khan Nasar, Faraz Aamer Khan, Haider Ali Naqvi, Hassaan Gondal, Irfan Channa, Kiran Waseem, Noman Siddiqui, Noorul Ain Nasir Khan, S.M. Raza, and Zahabia Khozema, drawing inspiration from S.M. Raza’s curatorial statement.

“Landscape Painting Today” served as a collective reimagining of contemporary landscape art, pushing the boundaries of both realistic renditions and conceptual interpretations. The exhibit featured visionary artists who approached landscapes with innovation and unconventional techniques, often utilizing non-traditional materials to great effect. These materials not only enhanced the visual aesthetics but also facilitated the conveyance of profound ideas and conceptual foundations.

Drawing parallels to the artistic revolutions of the mid-20th century in the Western art world, Pakistani pioneers like Mian Ijaz ul Hassan and Anna Molka Ahmed were celebrated for their avant-garde approaches, offering fresh trajectories for Pakistan’s art scene. Similarly, like the revered French Post-Impressionists who harnessed vibrant colors to evoke emotions and introduced dynamism through distorted forms, these artists redefined the landscape genre. As Paul Gauguin eloquently put it, “In Art, all who did something other than their predecessors merited the epithet of revolutionary; and it was they alone who were masters.” (Curator’s note).

At the helm of curation, Raza instinctively selected artists who viewed landscapes not as mere terrain but as canvases for personal, social, and political narratives. These artists aimed to convey the multifaceted essence of ‘land,’ whether as ‘home,’ ‘spatial fields,’ or ‘conceptual and imagined landscapes.’

In one standout piece from the exhibition, Aqsa Khan Nasar used velvet on canvas to construct a ‘panoramic’ view of Balochistan’s arid landscape. The perspectival use of curved distortion added depth to the artwork, shedding light on the long-standing sociopolitical situation.

Faraz Aamer Khan presented two meticulously executed paintings, one depicting a ‘mapped constellation’ of a nighttime landscape, and the other resembling a distant view of a catastrophic fire.

The use of anthotype printing, a relatively obscure yet highly expressive technique, was explored by Haider Ali Naqvi. He incorporated turmeric powder to create a series of intricate images showcasing beach houses in advanced states of disrepair. In contrast, Hassaan Gondal adhered to the time-honored tradition of photography, producing a compelling series of high-contrast, detailed images of Pakistan’s coastal regions.

During a brief conversation with the curator, it was noted that there was a significant shift in how contemporary artists defined ‘landscape.’ Irfan Channa, for instance, chose to depict electrical and telephone poles as singular features in his graphite drawings on coffee-stained paper, shedding light on Pakistan’s urban development challenges. Kiran Waseem took this exploration further with oils on aluminum, both in material choice and in the frenetic, distressed depictions of hybrid landscapes.

Noman Siddiqui’s ‘landscapes,’ painted on lozenge-shaped helium balloons, may have been the most illustrative of the dystopian take on landscapes, likely due to the whimsical nature of the work.

Noor ul Ain Nasir Khan’s pointillist works, though rooted in tradition, challenged conventions by employing large daubs of paint. These works served as a reminder that landscapes only become intelligible through distance and remoteness. S.M. Raza, while seemingly confined to oil and canvas, revealed subtle shifts in foreground objects and sources of lighting, particularly noticeable in the depiction of night skies and halos around the moon.

Zahabia Khozema’s digital prints, composed of red outlines depicting chaotic urban conurbations, exemplified the seismic shifts in perceptual systems that influenced the development of these artists’ frameworks. Raza highlighted the sheer diversity that emerged as a result of the theme. During the conversation between the writer and the curator, the idea of art galleries as spaces offering relief from our obsessive social-media habits surfaced. In essence, galleries have the potential to serve as sites for the rehabilitation of our increasingly fragmented inner landscapes.

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