The Sanat Initiative hosted an art exhibition titled Parde Main Rehne Do, consisting of the works by solo artist Ghulam Hussain. The pearl white walls and high ceilings of the gallery effortlessly complimented the bright popping colors and textured surface of Hussain’s framed pieces, bringing them to life.
This series of work created and exhibited by Hussain is a “framed ode to Pakistani Film Industry”, created by but not limited to the suggestive and provocative posters which happen to be plastered on public walls, in the markets near cinemas in Lahore. It is a depiction of the irony that lies within our society and the contrast between fantasy and real world.
Ghulam Hussain hails from Hyderabad, Sindh and traveled to Lahore where he graduated in 2009 from the prestigious art institution-NCA, with a degree in Miniature Painting. Hussain derives the inspiration for his work from his own everyday life and things he has experienced throughout his life. Hussain, having come from a family of artisans, feels a sense of pride in adopting the techniques he has learnt from his family and incorporating it with what is considered contemporary art. His main technique which he uses to create all his work is weaving, altering it in a way to incorporate this craft with his traditional Miniature art practice, the amalgamation of which, craft and art, is truly what makes it so unique and contemporary.
Hussain has pointed his audience towards observing the contradictions that lie in our society. On one hand we happen to observe our surroundings, public walls for instance, which are laden with and plastered repeatedly with sexually provocative graffiti or imagery in the form of Lollywood movie posters. Scantily dressed women adorn the walls and panaflexes which proudly hang on the side of the buildings, drawing the gaze of all which happen to be around them.
This free style of advertisement, with no hint of censorship, is actually pretty interesting to look at, especially since its prevailing in a society which happens to have a long history and on-going battle with censorship. Just recently, the court ruled against an artist whose sculpture was displayed at the Lahore Museum. Ambreen Qureshi filed a petition against the ‘Devil Sculpture’, saying that it induces fear among children. Ibraatul Hassan, the creator of the sculpture, defended his artwork saying that it was a depiction of the depths humans have stooped to and comparing those evil doers to the devil. He had created his sculpture after the ‘Zainab Rape Incident’ and believed that it was vital in creating a dialogue among the society, but sadly, it was censored. Here comes the contradiction, and a question which arises: are public walls (which are seen by and accessible to all citizens) any less of a public property than a museum intended to be catering to all citizens? How come one is allowed such a free flow of dialogue and display of controversial substance, while one is so heavily scrutinized? Do kids not see these graphic posters, or it’s just the conventional ‘art’ which comes under inquiry? Are the painted posters of the Lollywood Pubjabi Films ignored and left to breath in public because they are considered ‘low-art’?
Hussain absorbs all these questions and creates an artwork just leaves the audience in awe. He gracefully weaves the sexually suggestive posters in a way that they get censored, playing a satire on the society. He uses the imagery which most people find offensive and remove their gaze from, while some happen to find themselves fixating on it, as even partial nudity is such a foreign concept in our culture. His artwork is a string of a subject and the audiences’ reactions towards it-it being present, and people’s desire to have it censored, but still wanting to sneak in a quick look. So many fleeting emotions occur in oneself while observing his work, which truly makes it a masterpiece.
A conflicted reality, hidden in plain sight, Ghulam Hussain’s Parde Main Rehne Do was very well received by the spectators. He is not only nationally well known but has also gained fame abroad at high-end events like in New York, Rockefeller Brothers Art Residency etc. He continues to appease critical thinkers and excite audience through his carefully threaded masterpieces.