Chishtee’s metal frames artwork goes on display at Rohtas


At first sight, the art pieces of Khalil Chishtee looks like partially burnt papers but an in-depth glance gives viewers a prolonged effect of misery, helplessness, and frustration. The artists’ theme is about this, saying that is what life is all about.
United States of America-based Khalil Chishtee’s artwork exhibition, titled after a verse by Faiz Ahmed Ahmed: ‘Jo Dil Pe Guzarti Hey Raqam Karte Rahein Gay,’ opened at Rohtas Gallery on Wednesday with a pleasant surprise for the viewers as the artist offered that they give appropriate titles to his portraits on archival papers, 12 small and 9 large, giving them ample opportunity to be interactive with his art pieces.
The curator of the show, Nayha Jehangir, honoured the spectators by providing magnifying glasses attached to every piece. “These pieces are made by spark welding on acid face 1200 LB archival paper. The frames of each piece are also welded roughly in to maintain its natural look,” she said. Nayha said that although the artist himself was not available, she was in close communication with Chishtee through technology and it was decided that there would not be any price list for these layered pieces. According to the artist, “sheer novelty is not the idea behind these works as there is hardly anything new left to be discovered by artists of my time. I am neither trying to revisit aesthetics of abject realities nor involuntarily stepping into the domain of Automatists.”
Born in 1964, Khalil Chishtee is now living and working in California. In his statement, Chishtee says that the purpose of the attempt is to share the experience of what exactly happened during the process of making metal frames on blank sheets of paper. “Even my sketchpad starts taking its own notes by just sitting on my welding table,” he said.
Chishtee said these layered works are a visual history intimately whispered while watching its minute details. “Ironically at the end, these frames could not accompany their byproducts and the works had to find a new home constructed by someone else- such is life,” he said. Before moving to the States, Chishtee taught at the National College of Arts (NCA), Lahore for ten years. In Brooklyn, New York, the artist has been given a commission to turn a newly-built 5-storey residential building into an art installation. Chishtee has been exhibiting internationally since his graduation throughout the world. Titles of his exhibitions reveal the nature of his work: Recycled Identities, Dreaming of Dreaming, Duet, Toys are us, Sultan and Slave in Single File Stood Side by Side, No Knock, I Love You, Drop Your Drawers, City lights, etc.
Chishtee’s work mines the ubiquitous plastic bag in the unlikeliest of ways. Using his strong yet slight material, Chishtee has created a figure with sculptured precision and great attention to detail. Though his creation, light and fluid become intense, evoking physical and emotional vulnerability as a piercing sensibility of the human condition. The exhibition will continue at Rohtas Gallery until November 9.