It is difficult to articulate specific parameters for Pakistani culture; internationally however, our country has been presented as a formulated, homo
It is difficult to articulate specific parameters for Pakistani culture; internationally however, our country has been presented as a formulated, homogenous and staunch society. A bright and beeping indicator to oppose this argument would be Pakistan’s contemporary art world, which reflects and feeds upon the multiple elements which precipitate in our country. Usually an exhibition will have a particular theoretical agenda based on the curator’s concept and the artists’ developmental research, but with a standing collection in a gallery, a viewer feels a very different vibe —there is no implied suggestion of a group show pulling all the artworks together such as a title of the show or similar backgrounds of the artists. The standing collection at the Full Circle gallery in Karachi propels a stream of genuine and un-swayed feedback from the viewers. This turns into a viewpoint of what one thinks of contemporary art found in the elite galleries in Karachi.
Within the Full Circle gallery’s standing collection, one will find work with political potency such as Amir Raza’s and Muzzumil Raheel’s. The art work by Wahab Jaffer and Tassaduq Sohail present an insight into developmental progress of Pakistani artists over the years and the influences of the great masters during the 70s and 80s. As Pakistan artists gain international exposure and absorb cultural latitudes from other countries, their work becomes multi-dimensional and this resonates in the pieces by Dua Abbas and Muhammad Zeeshan.
Collectively, the collection projects how diverse artists can be in terms of visual communication. Suleman Khilji’s smokey compositions with hazy colours blurring into a moody ambiance with and definitive and striking strokes of paint confess a distinct darkness. The eerily cool turquoise against a rancid red in “Bubbles” suggests a hypnotic undertone to the image. A street scene during the night lures the viewer into the bright windows of strangers’ homes and a small but apparent moon gazes over the road. It is difficult to say that his work is romantic even though Khilji’s compositions portray elements of imagination running wild; his work is very much based on reality for instance his relationship with his hometown Quetta the daily nuances of being an artist in a turbulent country.
Amir Raza’s trademark parrot is instilled in situations of political mockery which is amplified by the design aspect strategically through repetition and lay out. On surface basis, his works almost come across as posters; they have strong content and minimalistic-ally illustrate a message about the on going hypocrisy in politics and society of Pakistan. The standing collections offers an insight into diverse mediums as well which is particularly highlighted in Muhammad Zeeshan’s work. Using the laser cutter technique, the images transform into an extensive of free hand drawing. The wavering lines aren’t crisp and minute as the viewer can feel the electricity from the forms. Contrasting with the soft use of pastels in Dua Abbas’s work the exhibition portrays an array of themes through the different mediums. With Muhammad Zeeshan’s work we get a sense of hidden anxiety and restraint, but with Dua Abbas’s work the pastels sort of caress the paper into depicting endless dreams and ethereal forms. Her use of Greek statues and glistening stars infuse elements of astrology and mythical theory which indicate a curiosity to understand the unknown or untouched.
The work of Ayesha Siddiqui conveys exhilarating pops of splattered paint but it does perhaps look weak against the other works of art. Partly because aside from the expression and vivacious use of medium, the content of the painting and the chosen medium offers little for the viewers to draw upon. However, these works prove to show that Pakistani artists aren’t fixated into technical training found in traditional miniatures. The collection streams through the animated and caricature Muzzumil Ruheel’s ‘Tito’ to picturesque flowers and vases by the Iranian Nafisah Panirian.
The show is a great example of how strolling into a contemporary gallery can offer a very different view to Pakistani society and their aesthetic interests — be it quite a small section of this country’s social circles. With artists such as Wahab Jaffer and Tassaduq Sohail experimenting with form and medium a significant while ago, today’s upcoming artists have a multitude of inspirations to work with.