‘Lakh War Sadke’: Introspecting into the human

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Provoking array of works by 5 artists opens up questions on ‘what it is to be human’
Delicious, scrumptious, appetizing yet leaving you for more, one might think that this article is about some gourmet item but these are the only things one feels after viewing Lakh War Sadke at the Alhamra Art Gallery.
A group exhibit consisting of works by really talented and thought-provoking young artists, showcasing a total of 51 works by five artists – Sarah Ahmed, Amra Khan, Ahsan Masood, Mizna Zulfiqar and Mohsin Shafi.
The work in general has more to do with the essence of human emotions, in crude terms it sheds light on our perception of the world versus the world’s perception of us as individuals. Complexes, patriotism, instincts, commercialism and fragmentation of the self and plight are just some of the core issues highlighted by the artists.
Layers that peal away:
Sarah Ahmed’s work is a multiplex of introspective and retrospective energy. Layers upon layer of self are being presented here; how much one peel’s away is dependent on him/her own self. The artist herself is at contradiction not with her society in general but with how the society perceives her. The flawless utopian human being is effortlessly but strategically scrapped off in Sarah’s work. The Bride Series is dark, provocative, with this gloomy aura to it yet the work is beautiful. Whereas, The Bride Series reflects the notion that is demanded from a woman in our society and culture, it’s the works titled The Tales from the Dark side that really embrace the artist’s sheer integrity in her individual self. These photomontages are gritty, raw and the usage of black and white really overwhelms the viewer.
Exploring fragmented selves:
Mizna Zulfiqar is an individual whose work is not only very delicate and fragile but also quite melodic. Dealing with the concept of fragmentation of self, she very calmly and skillfully gets her ideas across. The use of colors and other elements in her work are not only what I would like to call eye-friendly, but also very harmonious and mesmerising. Although the presentation is quite humble, the core idea of hers is considerably mature and deserves a deeper look into it.
Exploding the norm:
Mohsin Shafi proves himself to be a man of credible talent. Social networking, media, terrorism, and the rapid commercialism of our nation are the pillars upon which he makes his multiplex, brick upon brick inscribed with solid questions. Questions that he would more merrily ask than answer, questions that in today’s age and time everyone is pondering upon. His technique is fresh and has an astounding effect on the viewer. His manner is very “punch” oriented with in-your-face taglines that have become a norm of our everyday television viewing. These range from breaking news to satires to thought provoking one liners. This in turn reflects upon us becoming adapted and at peace with our surroundings, tough done in a light, cheerful manner the significance and meaning of these is quite moving. The usage of retro television frames adds a whole new perspective and dimension to it.
The last two artists in the show are not only working parallel to each other but their work also interconnects on some level.
Exploring rapid identity crisis:
Amra Khan in some aspects looks like a Pakistani who is going through a rapid identity crisis. She solves the puzzle, nearly deciphering it but upon reaching the very last jigsaw piece, shuffles it up all again, leaving it to the viewer to derive his or her own meaning from it. Her work revolves from traditional to the introspective to the slightly unorthodox. Where some might dub her work as bold, other might think of it as acutely sensitive. Ranging from the highly reworked models of Minar-e-Pakistan, her work echoes with juxtaposition in such a way that the whole concept of it changes to the display of little cards with pictures of saints, shrines, miracle men and other holy attributes. These little cards represent the filtered version of Islam that reached our land and how it got influenced and re-influenced over and over again. The loop holes and the religious plagiarism existing in not only in our system, but also our life, are also portrayed quite well.
Aside from all this work, Amra’s greatest feat lies in her work titled, Oh The Crispy Green, a dollar bill on which George Washington has the Jinnah cap and under the Union emblem lies the Minar-e-Pakistan. The first reaction is joy but the underlining meaning of it makes one anything but smile.
Indulging in the secretive:
Ahsan Masood’s exhibited work in some way pays homage to Realism. Using murky objects, his self, household objects and above everything denim, he creates photographs that are secretive, indulging and mesmerising. It is hard to focus on anything else around if one has spent too much time on his work. Most of his work is on the effects of sexuality, its place in our existing system, and what effects do cultural, religious, and social contexts play in this. The usage of elements and compositions is such that it takes one quite a while to unlock the image and completely understand it.
The Exhibition would continue until the 13th of this month. A must go for anyone who thinks him or herself to be a part of the social fabric of Pakistan. The only thing which remains to be said here is “Lakh War Sadke”.
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By Mustafa Naqvi, an undergraduate at the National College of Arts.