Artists’ attack – The Caged Bird Sings

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LAHORE: A couple of months back a movie titled ‘The Expendables’ came out. Not only did the movie marked the return of the action oriented cinema but also it drove every muscle loving, shell splitting hardcore action fan at the edge of their seats, with the movie cramming with topnotch action heroes.
The recent exhibition at Zahoor-ul-Akhlaq Gallery, National College of Arts, was no small affair, and just like the movie, the list of artists contributing their work for this exhibition included the best artists around: Masooma Syed, Imran, Aisha Khalid, Salima Hashmi, Nabila Yasmin, Rihana Mangi, Hira Mansur, Faiza Butt and Farida Batool and Kakul Kamran Kureshi.
The presence of so many big hits under one roof is certainly not something to be missed. The exhibition was a part of a farewell event for former National College of Arts Principal Nazish Ataullah, who retired some months prior from her tenure. The event also marked Nazish as the “Chevaliers dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres” or roughly the Knight in the order of Arts and Literature.
The exhibition was one of its kinds with the work coming from so many senior artists as well as new ones. Titled “The Caged Bird Sings”, this showcase of more than 21 works by different artists was a colorful platter of visual uniqueness. Nearly all of the art works at display had been previously showcased and they were contributed here by their respective owners/creators.
The time range of this exhibition was also something quite interesting, with some pieces being very recent, there were others that were a decade or two old. The boldest and the rawest work came from Kakul Kamran Kureshi. Due to its highly accurate subjectivity and staggering size, this particular painting was horded at the gallery’s entrance.
The painting was somewhat a very brutal yet consolidating imagery of nearly all of the major NCA staff members on the dinner table. With extravagant use of reds, sienna and violent yellows, this one work definitely requires more than just one view.
At first site they seem to be a pair of earrings and the other, feet made out of some bushy strands of some unknown material. At a closer look at both works by Maossoma Syed and ones perception about the work, along with the artist’s articulate impulse is brought into question. Whereas the earrings are made out of human nails the feet is a mould taken of the human feet using human hair.
These pieces are of extreme creativity, the usage of nails as the medium very efficiently imitates as if the earrings are made of ivory. The feet on the other side are gruesome and urge one to look at them again and again. Her third work “Made in Pakistan” is created using scrap metal as the medium and no words would befit in writing thus one must visit this display.
Aisha Khalid’s two works are displayed respectively, the installation is ingeniously original. An installation of double channeled video productions titled “Conversations” and the other being a 2008 miniature by her titled “Divided”, the work is very nostalgic if one comes to think of the artist subjective nature in this one. Hira Mansoor’s display consists of her paintings that were recently displayed at the Rohtas in a two-woman show.
These are goache and needle on wasli works. Farida Batool’s 2004 piece called the “Line of Control” is vibrantly nostalgic and easily associated with anyone who remembers the turmoil faced by the nation during that time. Tempera on wood is the medium of choice for Faiza Butt. Her work is subtle, original and synthetic in visual terms. The last two persons who displayed there work were Salima Hashmi and Nazish Ata-ullah.
Ingenious, masters of their crafts, visual story tellers or just aesthetically capable, words are limited in defining either these ladies or their works. History, culture and human psyche, in its darkest and the utmost bright, are brought together and then burst into tiny splinters. These works are a must visit for anyone even meagerly related to the field.