There is an old saying that opposites attract. Imran Muddasar’s exhibition Love or Hate at Rohtas II explicates with the relationship of opposing or contrasting influences in the context of socio political dilemmas of our times, especially those associated to violence. In the process of discoursing on the coexistence of contraries, he knowingly or unknowingly discovers their commonalities.
The figures in his works present themselves as self-studies and while debating the notion of “experiencing in the flesh” also seem to shape the idea of bounders and margins. Boundaries which may be translated as limits as well as limitations, self-inflicted or otherwise. His figures either look up to or look down at something. Their pale, jaundiced skin colour suggesting a drained existence or lack of life.
In his work Love or Hate I, two mirroring figures stand shoulder to shoulder with red paint on their index finger. The colour red, which appears sporadically in his works, seems to have been made a part of the work because of its dual connection with expressions of affection and rage, by staining the index finger, commonly understood to be the trigger finger and regionally understood as the symbol of Shahadat or Oneness. All these loaded meanings paired with the oriental necklace and the shoulder-to-shoulder posture of the figures implies an act of comparing or measuring. Where the figures overlap are perhaps intersecting boundaries, where the hiatus seizes to exist and commonalities develop. All this seems to be hinting towards the oriental versus the occidental dialogue, their common grounds and distinctions, misinterpretations and representations.
Similarly, in his work Parallel Growth Muddasar shows the growth of volatile tendencies alongside man. The artist seems inclined to compare and equate. It is perhaps for this reason that the idea of symmetry or mirroring, or one might say “patterned self-similarity” is a recurrent element in Muddasar’s work seems to be placed here in opposition to chaos. In Roguish Play he uses this attribute to create dome like structures and pillars, similar to those of a mosque though the outlines of war planes. Above them looms an oriental pattern which are commonly employed to suggest tranquility, harmony and continuity. In many cases the consciously created symmetry is broken all too consciously by means of overlapping arabesque patterns, colours and other formulas. Amongst them is the all too familiar housefly which is meant to provoke the viewer to investigate the idea of ugliness parallel to that of ultimate beauty.
Muddasar uses clichés such as the heart and the hand grenade as explicatory manifestations of love and hate. Google is loaded with such analogies and one expects at least some gesture of originality if not honesty. It does dishearten the viewer to know where the artist’s influences originate from.
The grenades, canons and the ominous war planes are repeated part of his imagery as symbols of mass violence. The artist in his statement suggests that “these weapons are lovingly crafted for one purpose only: to rip, tear and ravage fragile human flesh.” Or perhaps the intended meaning here was that of diligence. Where the weapon is crafted with such diligence for the sole purpose of violence. One can only guess. Either way, his work fails to explicate the complexity of such matters as it strips violence or acts of violence to simply good and evil, an explanation or analogy least needed. Nor can such phenomena be broken down to black or white. War, its repercussions and sometimes even its representations are never simply a matter of love or hate in the real world – love it or hate it, but it is a matter of benefits.