If you were looking to escape the relentless heat and shrivelled mood during this summer Koel Gallery served a perfect getaway. Rightly titled Summerscape this exhibition began on June 1st and will run through to July 9th. You’ll feast your eyes on a pride of 47 artists who’ve come together to offer Karachi a much-needed refill of art and culture.
I promptly began at Saad Ahmed’s Esteemed Mr. President piece executed to sheer perfection using aquatint. This piece follows up nicely with his second piece A Perfect Match also done with aquatint but he’s added etching with it to good effect. His pieces explore our state of mind and warm up our art palate.
Consistency was key to the exhibition. Huma Mulji’s nine pieces titled A Study of Equlibrium followed this well and felt both light-hearted and welcoming. In these pieces protagonists balance their responsibilities dutifully through the painting and each one is executed with acrylic paint with etched metals added on Archival Inkjet prints on Hahnemühle Photograph. The presentation mirrors the steadiness of each piece and works splendidly next to Naazish Ataullah’s Perpetual Disarray 1.
Meher Afroz’s love of wasli and conversation continues. Her acrylic and screen print on tracing paper laid on wasli is a fantastic process. Titled Guftugu the lines and grey tones speak to your eyes and once again work brilliantly with another grey-scale piece by Amean J. His digital print piece, Walking the fine line between Light & Shade I, forces you to stand your ground and ponder upon choices once made. And speaking of choices, it seems the character in Farrukh Shahab’s untitled piece is devoid of any. Much like the world we live in and are limited to the path we take simply because of the circumstances we are born in. This acrylic and oil paint on wood builds a story of a man that is weighed down of his responsibilities to his home and life.
Abdul Jabbar Gul also works with wood but prefers metal to paint this time. His first piece, similar to Shahab’s, reflects on our nuances. Titled Self Absorption there is nothing to suggest the face is not of us, boxed in and waiting for a chance to fly. And that is what he purposefully does with his second piece, this time relying heavily on brass and sculpting a more free and gleeful sensation titled Winged Thoughts.
Another sculpture of liberal emotion that shines with jagged ferocity is Fahim Rao’s Shab-o-Roz IV. He uses stainless steel to brilliant effect as our position plays with its light at different points of the piece. I particularly enjoyed Aqeel Solangi’s acrylic on monotype piece. Something about clouds and wisps over a moon-like base and lunar pillar with a bit of purple tone sets the eyes at ease. And when it comes moods there is nothing greater than the sound of splashing waves and indefinite chatter as depicted in Ali Abrar’s acrylic piece entitled Landscape. The grey-tone is perfect in signifying how an ordinary moment can be a lasting memory to relieve over and over. However, Zehra Batool is adamant that as far as ordinary moments are concerned, extraordinary memories shouldn’t cross the fine line and get lost in the clutches of a reverie. Batool implies this through her photograph titled It Was Not A Dream and has relieved it with us over and over again as well.
It would be an injustice not to mention each and every art work that was displayed during this brilliant exhibition, if only it was feasible in this review. Samina Quraeshi’s 2 pieces titled Mind Map 1 and Mind Map II is an etching on rives to brilliant effect. Her two Sufi Calligraphy pieces made me look twice if not thrice, the marvel of those digital prints were breath-taking. Arshad Faruqui’s Bird Cage and MT Nest executed with copper and, copper and wood, signified the sense of our city. And special mention to Nahid Raza’s Hidden Faces as it came out playfully with acrylic on paper. Each piece deserved its time during my journey from start to finish and opened up my mind like the sky above. Summerscape is recommendation above all others, and I say this as fervidly as our summers tend to get.