To celebrate its newly expanded space, the Art Chowk Gallery has put up 200 artworks of seasoned and young artists in an exhibition titled Potpourri 31 that began on Saturday.

More than 200 artworks are placed in the gallery area that art lovers usually visit, and the rest can be found in the new space. It’s a wide range to look at. From Tasadduq Sohail to Riffat Alvi and from Akram Dost Baloch to S.M. Raza, the variety, though requiring a decent time to absorb, will make the viewer return to the paintings over and over again.

Take Sohail’s example. These days, ever since the artist passed away, there are too many Sohail pieces doing the rounds in a number of galleries. But the one hung in the gallery is a fine oil-on-canvas work, vintage Sohail. The lines, the expression on the protagonist’s face, the fuzzy colours … are quite a sight.

Two of the paintings on display at the exhibition.—White Star
Two of the paintings on display at the exhibition.—White Star

Though different in subject, no less eye-catching is Asim Akhtar’s inkjet on archival moab paper in which he tells the viewer a story only by virtue of some chairs and a table. Now chairs, in our part of the world, symbolise power. Not in his work. They are characters, as vulnerable as any human being. They’re like a bunch of individuals with dissimilar approaches to life, but somehow are seen together. The effect of turning an inanimate object into an animate one is achieved by keeping them (in) black and white. If they were kept in a coloured atmosphere, they could have been trivialised. Still, Akhtar doesn’t compromise on aesthetics. There’s elegance to all the chairs, nay characters.

Wajid Aly brings in the cosmic element to the whole scheme of things with his acrylic on canvas exhibit. The lightness of colours and the vastness of the horizon create an image that only artists can come up with.

Originally published in Dawn, June 13th, 2018