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Monochrome

Things don’t have to be extraordinary to be beautiful; ordinary can be just as striking. If you ask me, making familiar images exciting is the real challenge. To my delight, the show ‘Monochrome’ does exactly that. The collaborative show is the product of two creative minds, namely Sanie Bokhari and Kiran Chaudhari. The artwork is an amalgamation of their contrasting approaches to art making. This bold project has been on display at My Art World, Islamabad since 21st October, 2015. As an avid gallery visitor, I feel things have started getting very mundane as you always know what to expect before entering a gallery. However, this exhibit held a certain intrigue as the outcome was entirely a mystery.

The display is not about a particular artist or work branded with a particular name; it is about the thrill of creating or the desire to generate something new. It involves opening oneself up to the creative process of a fellow artist and consequently growing.The collaboration does not act as a means for the artists to hide behind each other’s styles but further promotes their distinctive methods; their respective techniques juxataposed emerge more prominently.

The show also consists of individual art pieces by both the painters. The inclusion of these pieces help one witness the creative process through which the mutual work is conceived. One can see ideas evolve due to external influences and creative differences and how one medium can accentuate the appeal of another.

Sanie Bokhari’s work assumes an almost ethereal quality as she tries to give tangibility to the subtle emotions we associate with the inanimate. The artist does not fail to please. Her rich and precise brush strokes give the work its serene nature. The dim lighting is soothing like that of a lazy Sunday afternoon. Her work possesses a delicacy, softness or intimacy. Bokhari seems to be an artist who is very clear in terms of what image she wants to reveal on her canvas. The ease and calmness that she seems to possess is beautifully translated into her work. The artist concentrates on that which makes the human what he is – a bundle of emotions. Despite the rare use of the human form there are still signs of life as the inanimate takes upon themselves these human traits.

On the other hand, Chaudhari’s approach is more aggressive. Her aim is to capture movement or a physical turmoil. Her style gives birth to a certain dynamic quality as she employs the wild nature of charcoal to construct energetic strokes on paper. Her work focuses on the process of creating. The sporadic strokes instill a certain commotion or unrest that excites the viewer.

The piece Sober by Sanie Bokhari held my attention more than the others. The image is made up of a strong, unconventional composition where the female figure is shoved in the corner. The lines placed on the canvas seem to be carefully constructed and paint placed in the right spots to give it adequate tonal variation and depth.

However, the painting Monochrome 2 is the actual show stopper. The painting consists of a beautiful use of negative spaces, rejecting the idea of employing an overwhelming amount of details. Monochrome 2 seems like the finale to a beautiful collection as it possesses the maturity that comes after several experimental paintings. There is turmoil within the child figure; a restlessness that is pacified by Bokhari’s smooth layering of paint. The livingly almost animated lines seamlessly merge with the silky-smooth texture of oil paint.

Kiran’s imagery is a tribute to the relationship between mother and child where she acts as the voice of the child while Sanie’s work could easily represent the touch and softness of the absent mother figure. The painted backdrop acts as a concrete base to the charcoal in comparison to plain washes on blank paper surface as previously utilized. The work of both, being of a simple nature, seem to complement each other. Together they emerge into a complex design, yet not overcrowded.

The work takes one on a roller coaster ride of sentiments. It possesses a quiet theatricality. You can experience the rise and fall of the tempo as the eye travels across the canvas. As you strip away the colour and other complications, what is left behind is the pure soul of your subject.The use of a monochromatic palette washes away the unnecessary noise of colour and other such the distractions.

The collaboration seems to have brought out the best in both of them. The artwork celebrates Kiran’s fanatical line work and the subtle seductiveness of Bokhari’s labour. One could only wish to see many more of these daring projects being undertaken by galleries where work is made simply for the love of art making. It broadens the perspective of artists as they tend to let go of some of the control and submit to others opinions, growing under influence without comprising on one’s artistic vision.

Monochrome: A collaborative showcase by Sanie Bokhari & Kirin Chaudhari’ was exhibited at My Art World, Islamabad, October 21-30, 2015. Images courtesy My Art World.

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