In the labyrinth of varying sects, identities, cultures, colour and religion arises an existential question, what is the purpose of these divisions in society? Aakif Suri’s art work was an answer to his own ponderings. In his exhibition ‘Part of the story has not been told’ at Sanat Initiative, he paints his perspective on the darker side of human nature.
The masterpiece could not be missed b any spectator; “I am Fish” covered a 236 x 99 cm canvas masking the wall in entirety. The magnitude of the sprawling art was a statement in itself.
“Some things in life are overpowering, they become larger than life. But the issues we think of as important are actually like a bubble that bursts, leaving only hollowness inside.”
The painting symbolised the controversies and political instability in the country right now. For Suri, propaganda is blown out of proportion, brought to the extremities till it engulfs everyone in it until it becomes everybody’s concern, and all of a sudden it dies into nothingness.
“Right now we think the dharna in Islamabad is the most important thing. Maybe when it ends and time passes, we would look back it and realise it was given undue significance like the Memogate scandal,”
The artist dwelled in the theme of power, greed and human instincts, which were the core ingredients in all of his work. He believed that these elements are the driving force of all our actions. His display of lid-less jars with disconnected faces had a close link with his opposition to the concept of dividing the society on the basis of sects.
Suri took turban as a metaphor for the fixation that people have with their identity. To him, when a head gear becomes much more to people than an accessory, the unwillingness to be detached from it, even at the expense of their life is where the problem arises.
“I wanted to show through my work the obsession with identity and association with things that becomes more importance than human life itself.”
The faces were painted in green and red hues and sketched in a manner that it looked similar to a display in a forensic lab. “We see human body parts in a forensic lab; it’s a human looking at another human’s organs. These jars indicated that we need to similarly look at ourselves and see the disease in our personality.”
Suri does believe there is a common ground among all different identities: the need to be superior.
“Equality negates authoritarianism which is why society is not egalitarian. Our egos drive us to show ourselves a step ahead of everyone else, to be regarded differently.”
The thirst for power and control is reflected through his piece ‘King’s selfie’. The outline of the king is actually of a regular man with a fat belly. The protruding stomach also depicts the man’s greed that devours anything and everything that obstructs his personal benefit and pleasure. Below the king’s apparel is a normal person and the throne and the power yielded through it only an illusion.
“I have seen Akif’s work progress from pictorial to abstract form with dual meaning behind it which is both reflection on society and his experiences. His work projects the political turmoil and shows his ability to communicate the message without using a single a word,” said Fazli Azeem, one of the spectators at the gallery.