Paracosm: A Journey of Imagination


Paracosm: A Journey of Imagination

The exhibition proved to be a step into the vibrant and diverse worlds of four brilliant artists whose unique perspectives redefined the boundaries o

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Waqas Khan at Art Basel Hong Kong 2024
Corporeal to Ethereal

The exhibition proved to be a step into the vibrant and diverse worlds of four brilliant artists whose unique perspectives redefined the boundaries of art

Some exhibitions possess the power to captivate viewers, urging them to linger before the artworks, savoring the intricate details and absorbing it all. “Paracosm,” hosted at the unassuming Numaish Gah art gallery nestled in Gulberg, Lahore, did just that. It celebrated the unique voices of four exceptional artists, inviting spectators to glimpse into the imaginative realms they conjured. Curated by Irfan Gul Dahri, this exhibition revolved around the ‘complex, imaginary worlds and narratives’ of the artists, acting as a ‘portal into the personal and private realms.’ The featured artists included Brishna Amin Khan, Hifza Khan, Imran Mughal, and Khadija S. Akhtar. Each artist’s distinct works were thoughtfully curated within the gallery’s rooms, and a QR code at the entrance provided access to the e-catalogue of the show.

Khadija Akhtar’s work immediately captured attention with its whimsical frames that enclosed each painting. Vibrant colors and bold brushstrokes breathed life into her narratives. Her painting titled “Tree House” portrayed a fantastical landscape where a house sprouted from the branch of what appeared to be a pomegranate tree, surrounded by luminous flying fish. The striking pink background and frame contrasted beautifully with the vibrant blue leaves, fiery red bushes, and the orange glow emanating from the fish. Akhtar’s other two works shared a similar style, blending elements of fantasy with seemingly natural outdoor settings. If one word were to describe Akhtar’s work, it would be “explosive” – an explosion of color, emotion, and detail.

Hifza Khan’s work also explored flora and fauna but adopted a more serene approach to the subject and the exhibition’s theme. Intricate floral details on cool-toned backgrounds popped out, allowing viewers to immerse themselves in the intricacies. There was an underlying feminine theme in her works, whether through the depiction of a horizontally divided heart in “The Great Divide” or the cage-like structures in “Duality” and “Womanhood” that resembled female torsos with blossoms spilling out. The flat miniature painting style enhanced the details, and these seemingly tranquil pieces exuded feelings of joy and contentment.

Brishna Khan’s work was perhaps the closest to an objective interpretation of the theme, focusing on the subject matter. Her paintings portrayed lush green mountain landscapes, evoking a sense of familiarity yet enveloped in dream-like qualities. In “Of Inspiration on The Humblest Lay,” a forest landscape featured an overgrown wall with blooming flowers. A space between the walls appeared inviting, but darkness lurked behind it. The rising sun in the distant background and the overall landscape created a liminal space, a recurring theme in her works that invites contemplation.

Lastly, Imran Mughal’s paintings included not only imagined landscapes but also a few portraits. His work felt contemporary and refreshing, transporting viewers to a realm of fantasy. In “A Celestial Family Portrait,” two imagined characters, a faceless figure and a cat-like being with wings, floated on a carpet against a blue sky backdrop, alongside various minute details. The faceless figure reappeared with wings in “Wasal 1,” while the cat-like figure drifted on a cloud in “Transcendent Remembrance 3.” Each painting held its unique charm, yet when exhibited together, they wove a fantastical narrative. The artworks drew inspiration from miniature painting styles and indigenous mystical themes, adding depth and richness to the overall collection.

This exhibition’s success stemmed not only from its meticulous curation but also from the artists’ unwavering attention to detail. It was a refreshing experience to witness each artist’s distinct approach to the exhibition’s theme, allowing us to explore the diverse worlds they created.


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