A group show titled Transcriptase: The genetics of international and regional art and design took place at Full Circle gallery on the 7th of December, 2018. This particular show, being the third segment of Artists of the Manifesto of Nomadism, was a joint venture of three artists; Manizhe Ali, Ali Khan and Paul-Mehdi Rizvi. The show comprised of a detailed study between objects and their subjects, reflecting upon the contemporary art and its content here in Pakistan. The manifesto’s foundation, initially laid by Mehdi Rizvi, sheds light upon the ideology of Nomadism, which according to the artist is the creation of contemporary art, taking into consideration the exploration of materials with the context. The artists had together, constructed a body of work which went through individual experiences of the artists in order to shed light upon the idea of Nomadism; basically the process of transformation and adaptation.
Manizhe Ali’s work consisted of precious jewelry pieces which were made through interaction with the local Karigar system in Karachi. An artist by training, her work sheds light upon the concept of value and beauty and during the process of building on her particular practice, Ali learnt that even jewelry has roots attached to ‘Structuralism’ that is, studying the relationship between an object and its subject which may be completely contrasting and which, this group will be thoroughly exploring in their work. An interesting piece by Ali titled Natural History consisted of a glass box in which a lizard-like creature sculpted out of plaster was placed alongside a butterfly ornament and a piece of necklace with precious stones. Not only was this particular piece making a statement but by placing two contrasting artworks cum elements together, it leaves the viewer to question the concept of worth artistically and commercially; at the end, both pieces have buying power and yet, they are also works of art, leaving the respective viewer to decide and define these pieces with an individual perception.
The second artist Ali Khan, who was trained as interior designer abroad, diversified his practice to research on and create contemporary furniture. Having extensively explored Pakistan, Khan took inspiration from Punjab and Sindh’s metallic and ceramic industry to work and create furniture locally with artisans. Khan’s work which was the product of a nomadic research, seemed to be having a fusion of natural and man-made materials. One of his works titled Aura, comprised of a canvas painted in golden pigment, under which was a polished piece of rosewood, possibly the artist’s interpretation of a scene he experienced while travelling or perhaps even an imaginary construct just to relive that experience of being in the natural surroundings. It is interesting how the artist had created and reflected upon a whole experience within his visuals; not only his own but for the viewers to have a taste of it as well.
The third artist who was Paul-Mehdi Rizvi, made work which seemed to be symbolizing upon the artist’s own interpretation and also took into consideration how the viewers would perceive his visuals. Building his body of work on the basis of psychoanalysis and structuralism, the artist took to discuss his home city by not only constructing abstract visuals but also by using materials which might be considered out of the ordinary, taking into consideration the nature of the work and concept. Taking the example of his work titled Horizontal Line, the artist had used two canvases on which he had seemingly applied various pigments and materials. It seemed more like an abstract piece of work but it could perhaps symbolic of the artist’s own interpretation of a horizontal line, taking into consideration, the rawness of his color palette and the visual itself. The use of mixed media showed a murkiness in the visual imagery, possibly a reflection upon the state of contemporary art in Pakistan which is not thought upon or practiced widely in Pakistan.
Despite addressing completely different concerns, it is interesting and heartwarming to see a collective trying to address the critical framework of art in Pakistan, with their own theories and perceptions; be it Freudian or simply their own way of analyzing through various other means, leaving creatives and viewers to decide and ponder upon the future of contemporary art in Pakistan.
- Manizhe Ali, artistic statement published in manifesto titled Transcriptase: The genetics of international and regional art and design, Full Circle gallery, 2018.