A group of ten artists and art instructors exhibited their works in a collaborative drawing show titled “Under__Line” at Art Chowk Gallery in Karachi on October 16, 2018. Each artist experimented with basic elements of line and form, while also incorporating iconography and symbolism, to come up with new ways of developing their artistic practice.
Yasmeen Salman’s miniatures make use of her personal memories and experiences. She uses the imagery of a Pakistani bride. One painting titled ‘Singhar’ showcases a comb superimposed on a hand mirror bordered with bright vegetables. Her use of iconography is perhaps trying to describe the personal journey of a typical, ‘traditional’ Pakistani woman upon getting married, i.e. taking charge of the household and banao singhar (dressing up).
Raheela Abro showcases minimalistic pencil drawings in her miniatures. The shape of the sphere takes on a metaphorical form in her work, signifying the constant ‘rolling’ of life in a cycle. She uses the imagery of a ball of string, an eyeball and a cactus, all three emphasizing the roundness of the shape. Her work merges geometric shapes with organic objects, perhaps also trying to talk about the concept of cosmic patterns of geometry being found in nature.
Khalid Soomro’s politically charged works throw subtle hints at the standards of power and control that have existed in societies throughout history. His dark, striking acrylic and charcoal paintings depict figures of authority and power, and even worship, similar to statues of Roman emperors. The third diptych uses the imagery of a tied up lamb, titled ‘Sacrifice’, perhaps hinting at political leaders treating their people as sacrificial lambs in their hunger for power.
Sheema Khan’s vasli paintings deal with depicting 3-dimentionality on a 2D surface. Her object of choice is a child’s doll, which gives Khan a good opportunity to balance the real with the artificial, dealing with the challenge of capturing an infant’s softness while keeping the feeling of artificiality of plastic at the same time. Her monochromatic pastel drawing uses sharps contrasts to create an eerie depiction of the doll’s face as though it were popping out of the paper.
Shazia Qureshi uses the medium of ink to showcase her drawings in a free and fluid way. Her lines and strokes vaguely take on ambiguous shapes and forms bordering on abstraction. She states that her experimentation with the medium of ink makes it easier for her to express herself more freely without feeling limited or controlled by other drawing mediums, also feeling that it is symbolic to life itself and how it cannot be contained.
Danish Ahmed’s work focuses around the concept of nature being overlooked for material, manmade commodities. We again see a clash of the organic with the platonic. The natural forms are depicted as though being suffocated by the sharp, translucent shapes. The use of charcoal also makes it look as though the trees and clouds are trapped and consumed inside a container of black smoke, the platonic forms also being symbolic of perhaps manmade buildings or factories.
S.M. Raza presents a charcoal and acrylic painting on paper which appears to be the artist’s own self portrait. Aptly titled ‘Dream’, the primarily monochromatic piece is indeed given a dreamlike rendition through hints of cerulean blue to indicate the sky behind a mundane semi-urban setting. The unfinished quality aids in manifesting the abstract, intangible feeling of thinking back to a past moment and capturing elusive details through memory.
Another politically charged body of work comes from artist Ayesha Naveed. Titled ‘I see Hope I’, she uses a photo transfer on wood of recently elected Prime Minister Imran Khan. Another correlating piece presents two lazer engraved versions of the map of Pakistan on wood, with one map mirrored and bordered in gold dry sand. Her work is perhaps a direct reference to Khan’s most popular slogans of Naya Pakistan (New Pakistan) and Tabdeeli Agayi Hai (Change Has Arrived), highlighting Pakistan’s new political structure and the hope for better change that comes with it.
Abdul Malik Channa titles his graphite drawing ‘Artists and art lovers’, placing four mirrored figures (two on each side) standing opposite each other. Channa states that “The Art lovers and admirers are as important as Art itself”, indicating that he purposely made the figures look the same to highlight the significance of the viewer or ‘art lover’ in the experience of making and exhibiting the art work.
Lastly, artist Munawar Ali Syed also looks at the conflict between man and nature. He uses the mundane imagery of a four-lined paper that is typically used in primary level schooling. He uses the element of line in chaotic black and red ink cross-hatchings to create an ambiguous geometric shape symbolic of an urban structure. Syed tries to highlight the struggle of nature and its survival within ever-growing urban materialism present in the manmade world. The lines on the paper are purposely made to break away from their standard pattern to signify the perseverance of nature even when facing adversity.
The show caters to both students and teachers of art in investigating new methods of art practice, aiming to diversify their methods not just in conceptual development, but also in exploration of mediums in drawing.