27 Jul, 2018

How does one express fear in art? It’s a difficult task. One way to do that is to draw or paint perturbed faces or distorted visages a la Francis Bacon. The other way is to go abstract. Even more difficult is the task of delineating the fear of confrontation in a society that’s becoming increasingly intolerant.

An exhibition of Marium Kamal’s latest body of work that opened at the Full Circle Gallery on Monday evening attempts to highlight the same dilemma, which is why the show is named, rather plainly, My Deep-Seated Fear of Confrontation.

Wait a minute. The fear is more of a personal predicament and less to do with society, though the two are not mutually exclusive. In her statement the artist writes, “The work talks about my personal experience while growing up with it and failing to have it addressed as a real problem because of the stigma with mental health.” Before that Kamal does mention ‘social anxiety’ as well. So, the fear that she is trying to portray stems from both individual and societal experiences.

Thoughtfully, the first exhibit that Kamal puts on view is the first from the ‘Formation of Fear’ series (mix media). There’s a bit of abstraction to the artwork. The colours and their phlegmatic movements towards, or away from, each other, are clear as day. This means the formation is not a rapid process. It trickles in with the passage of time.

All is not doom and gloom, by the way. The artist throws in hope amidst all of her confessions. The hope, however, is in the shape of circles. And circles symbolise, among other things, a kind of uncertainty that can resume a position from where it started to move. Still, as Ernest Hemingway writes, “It’s silly not to hope.”

Kamal’s use of mixed media is intelligent. It allows her to play with the form in order for content to be as open-ended as the element of fear in any person.

The exhibition concludes on July 31.

Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2018