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Meraki Gallery Group Show

Meraki Art Gallery hosted a five-artist group show in January, bringing fine monochromatic work together, with some deep colour palettes ‘thrown in’ to give nuance to the collection. While the artists were thematically different, there was a visual theme discernable through the use of monochrome and chiaroscuro. These element lent a dramatic effect to the show, which touched on some solemn and thought-provoking subjects.
Ayesha Kushnud
Ayesha Kushnud produced an interesting series along the theme “I wish I was me” aimed at illuminating the struggle of living a life that is not authentic. “Humans lose their personality when they are bound to live a life others want them to live” says the artist. This theme is translated to the page using the symbol of the puppet, where unseen ‘others’ are controlling the edifices of those who are denied their freedom. As always when a monochrome palette of black and white is punctuated with bright red, blood and violence and passion is a reference in the viewers mind. Are we seeing the struggle of those being controlled to break free? or is it just the slow bleed-out of a caged life that stains the page?
Manahil Iqbal
Manahil Iqbal’s work calls on us to recognise a higher power, by referencing the saying ‘Kunfaya Kun’ (Be and it Is) in the underlying theme of her series. Lines crisscross the image of the mosque like scaffolding – “Under Construction” it seems to say. This is in direct opposition to the Might and Majesty that Iqbal is calling upon in her work, for the power of Kunfaya Kun needs no time for construction.
She wants us to connect with this Higher Power, saying that “There comes a point in a person’s life when they are surrounded by darkness, at that point…a person has his hope with the belief called Kunfaya Kun…Whatever He orders happens and comes into existence from nothingness.” In this way, she says, all humans are connected through their very createdness. We are all a product of “Kunfaya Kun.”
Ammama Malik
Ammama Malik’s luscious work is a painterly experience. The work itself is an exercise in observing the application of paint, and velvety folds of fabric are the perfect subject to help this exploration of a medium. “The work is about the application of the paint and …what…makes a painting. It starts from the making of the folds, but what becomes significant through the process is how it drapes the surface through paint, brushes and the act [of painting] itself.” There is something very old-world about the folds of fabric, with the color palette and richness evoking the kind of heavy folds and deep colour popular in Baroque painting. We could almost imagine these are excerpts from the corner of a Rembrandt or Caravaggio.
Summaiya Saeed
Like Ammama Malik, Sumaiya Saeed is interested in exploring the process of art, but this time the struggle of the artist is under observation, rather than the painterly process itself. Saeed seeks to explore the various twists and turns in an artist’s life, from the difficulty of pursuing a dream others may look down upon, to the elation of achieving that dream in spite of those who were unsupportive. “Success comes only to those who help themselves and keep moving toward their dream and goal,” she says. Her images show the tools of the artistic trade, tangled within the thorny branches of all those who would hold the artist back.
Feroza Khan
Feroza Khan has produced a visually arresting series of work for the Meraki show, with a complex thematic underpinning. “I have attempted to highlight their state of frustration, anxiety, narrow mindedness, losing identity with the imagery of dusty and cracking bulbs and breaking filaments. My work is a contemplative effort to evoke the reality of it as nothingness.” Says Khan. Her work calls to mind the kind of moments in life when we are uncertain whether something is brilliant or mundane – much like the signifier of the lightbulb. “It was probably nothing but it felt like the world” she quotes Morrissey. This duality of life – the brilliant nothingness of being – is what underpins Khan’s works. Her choice of lightbulbs and filaments as the visual signifier speak well to this theme, as they are at once brilliant, ordinary and transient.
Cosima Brand is an editor and writer living in Pakistan.

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