2 artists explore identity and alienation in this new exhibition

KARACHI: In our times, nothing could be more pertinent for the artist community to explore the issue of identity that has been gnawing at society’s soul for the past few decades. The theme of alienation, despite having personal overtones, is related to it.

A two-person exhibition, which opened at the Chawkandi Art Gallery on Tuesday, insightfully focuses on identity crises and the pangs caused by alienation.

The participating artists are Hira Zubair and Shamsuddin Tanwri. Both have contrasting styles. The former compels the viewer to appreciate her technique and then look for meaning in her work while the latter presents multiple meanings through his artworks, making it hard for the viewer to decide which of the connotations concurs with the artist’s. And both succeed in attracting attention.

Hira plays on abstraction that leads, or may lead, to concrete results. She says more with colours than the delicate images that she creates. That is why there are elements in her untitled gouache-on-wasli exhibits where one can start putting the pieces of the puzzle together. For instance, the splotches of red in a couple of her artworks, just where the creative output seems to come to fruition, hints at a malaise which is deeper than one thinks it is.

Shamsuddin draws on the concept of estrangement somewhat like the existentialists do. The cause of the alienation that suffocates him is the rural-urban binary. What he does rather impressively is that he allows the human body to take centre stage so that the psychological and the physical (turmoil) are put side by side; but since the physical aspect of things are more tangible in nature, his message is put across with more artistic verve.

The presence of the lotus in his gouache-on-wasli and gouache on arches sheet artworks, in his own words, represents his thinking. However, another thing that the lotus symbolises is spiritual awakening. It makes Shamsuddin’s effort all the more noteworthy. He covers the whole gamut of the psychological, physical and spiritual sides to human existence by touching upon a single theme.

The exhibition will continue till March 30.


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