Vivid Vignettes: Stories in Art

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Vivid Vignettes: Stories in Art

Vignettes" at Numaishgah showcases 14 artists' diverse visual mediums, offering a unique and immersive experience of storytelling through artworks

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Vignettes” at Numaishgah showcases 14 artists’ diverse visual mediums, offering a unique and immersive experience of storytelling through artworks

Storytelling is one of the most ancient and powerful art forms of human culture. Various civilizations have been weaving anecdotes through art for centuries, from the pictorial hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt and the extravagantly painted Greek urns to the magnificent art of the Renaissance and the Impressionist works that emerged in 18th-century Paris. All art has had a story to tell.

A group show titled “Vignettes,” featuring the works of 14 artists who employ diverse visual mediums, opened at Numaishgah gallery in Lahore in mid-July 2023. According to the curator, Irfan Gul Dahri, “Over time, the concept of vignette expanded beyond its initial context and found its place in diverse artistic expressions.” This exhibition offers a chance to encounter several specific moments in a space created by each of these 14 artists, making it a unique visual experience.

Situated in the heart of Lahore’s hustle and bustle, Numaishgah provides an accessible location for all visitors. Upon entering the gallery, visitors are greeted with a semi-circular room on the right showcasing Amra Khan’s highly decorative golden frames. Her characters seem to communicate conflicting ideas about gender, power, and identity in her painting “BabyChutney and the Gang,” urging observers to question the role of other genders in society. Her work often revolves around the juxtaposition of two utterly opposed concepts or personalities within the same body.

Similarly, Javed Iqbal Mughal’s canvases represent the struggles faced by males in a patriarchal society, speaking of the injustices and mistreatments of the weak and powerless.

Adjacent to Mughal’s works, Aun Raza takes viewers on a journey exploring the realms of possibilities. His skillfully painted characters appear caught between moments of choice, hovering between reality and fantasy. Placed next to them, Attiya Shaukat’s miniatures remind viewers to accept themselves as they are. Shaukat, following a personal accident, has built her own visual vocabulary over the years, using art to silently depict deeply personal aspects of her life.

Art, much like philosophy, can be a means to contain chaos, explain it, or locate firm ground beneath it. Nabiha Gillani and Amerzish Khalid’s figures similarly delve into this exploration. Gillani portrays her dyslexia on canvas, while Khalid captures the clash between dreams and reality.

Reflecting on a piece of art often leads us to delve into our own experiences and nostalgia. Scherezade Junejo’s “exploding hearts” resonate with each viewer uniquely, drawing on their individual life experiences. As visitors navigate the exhibition, they encounter Kamran Kashkheli’s optically illusive work, which instantly immerses them in a journey of self-exploration through multiple layers of colors and abstract shapes. Meanwhile, Javaid Joya’s tangled ropes compel viewers to find meaning in the intangible and abstract.

Throughout history, artists have employed narrative building through art, using the power of visual imagery to ignite imaginations, evoke emotions, and capture universal cultural truths. Gulsoom Musa’s gouache on wasli cutouts beautifully represent a sensitive relationship between memories and identity tied to a certain place and time. In contrast, Usman Khalid’s charcoal drawings and Bilal Rajput’s miniatures use their unique symbols to depict the harsh realities of the 21st century.

Art, in its diverse forms, is a potent medium for storytelling. Artists have the ability to present narratives in various ways. By carefully observing a single work of art, one can uncover elements of a great story—characters, settings, plots, dialogues, and resolutions. Visual artists possess an incredible power to communicate complex and compelling narratives with a single still image. Mizna Zulfiqar and Maryam Irfan’s gripping visuals leave viewers immersed in nostalgia and captivated by the magic conveyed through their miniatures.

Life is a random series of beautifully composed vignettes, loosely tied together by a string of characters and time. The exhibition “Vignette” celebrates the supremacy and mysticism of artistic expressions contained within various mediums. Engrossing oneself in these evocative moments enables reflection on the intricacies of storytelling, the power of transitory moments in life, and the boundless realms of imagination that transient visuals can confine. Through a carefully curated collection of artworks, this exhibition invites the audience to experience the multiple potentials of the vignette art form.

The exhibition, curated by Irfan Gul Dahri, titled “Vignettes” was displayed at Numaishgah Gallery Lahore from 16th July – 25th July 2023.  
It featured the works of 14 artists including Amra Khan, Attiya Shaukat, Amerzish Khalid, Aun Raza, Bilal Rajput, Gulsoom Musa, Javaid Joya, Javed Iqbal Mughal, Kamran Kashkheli, Maryam Irfan, Mizna Zulfiqar, Nabiha Gillani, Scheherezade Junejo and Usman Khalid.