A four-person show titled Figuratively speaking opened at the Canvas Art Gallery on Tuesday. As is the usual practice, there is a theme to the exhibition and, at the same time, the participating artists’ works can be interpreted individually. After all, each artist has a distinct expression.
Veera Rustomji impresses with her examination of filial bonds and their associations in diverse cultural milieus. She puts pictures of people in groups and sets them in a situation which instantly raises questions in the viewer’s mind, because the viewer becomes interested in both history and culture of the protagonists. It is not easy. Veera gives a big clue in the exhibit ‘Does the white space make you feel uncomfortable?’ (oil on canvas) by letting the viewer know that the faces of her characters, not to mention some of their places, will not be given away readily. Whoever is watching them should connect the dots themselves. To each, his own.
Similarly, Heraa Khan explores a certain (privileged) segment of society’s disconnect from the rest of the lot (not-so-privileged ones). The technical route that she opts for is quite different. Her piece ‘Tawdry’ (gold lead and gouache on wasli paper) is a nice example of it. There is a fair degree of craft involved in her work, which indicates her fondness for miniature art.
Syed Hussain, as his statement suggests, belongs to the Hazaras of Pakistan who have faced a great deal of difficulties. The artist poses, and responds to, the question of identity by using his family’s old documents to revisit their stories. He uses the word ‘decode’ instead of revisit, which is layered with meaning, as is his artworks.
Umar Nawaz’s untitled iron work plays with the idea of content in relation to form (or is it the other way round?). It is an interesting effort since it also tries to engage the viewer in analysing how the eye perceives or can perceive a single object in multiple ways.
The exhibition will remain open till June 2.
Originally published in Dawn, May 26th, 2016