Mughal art reproduced, displayed at Nomad

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Moulding the Mughal history with contemporary experiments, a Lahore-based established artist Samina Ali Akhtar on Friday brought her latest collection of 25 mix media paintings to the Nomad Art Gallery.
Commenting on the display, Nomad Gallery Director Nageen Hyat said, “Samina Ali Akhtar goes a step forward in merging history with aesthetic contemporary imagery. Her latest exhibition at Nomad, features 25 mix-media paintings reflecting unique elements on a juxtaposed surface of woodcut, calligraphy, natural dyes, stains, gold and silver leaf – with powerful compositions and fine details,” she added.
New dimensions of mix media are the main feature of the exhibition that reflects artist’s love for the traditional Mughal era paintings in the Sub-Continent. All the 25 paintings on display are in vibrant colours and a fusion of contemporary work with nostalgic images of rustic history of Mughal dynasty.
The rich colour palate and the use of gold and silver leaf to highlight the eccentric miniature paintings added an affluent flair to the collection. As an ardent fan of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Samina has incorporated his poetry in her work to accentuate it. The mixed media in combination with calligraphy and miniature art gives off a well-rounded feel.
With 243 paintings on permanent display at the Serena Hotel Islamabad, the artist is appreciated and renowned for her work.
Samina’s art is pluralistic and has an ethereal quality. Her command on the medium, composition and texture are overwhelming. Her paintings move back and forth in time and her innovative, original and breathtaking work is effortless imagery of the past. These paintings offer a fascinating window into the lives of those great rulers. According to Samina, the response in painting must be to what it is, not to what it is about.
The collages are studded with old manuscripts and architectural elements to fit into a narrative. Her works encompass diminutive pieces of recyclable and handmade paper, confectionary tinsel wraps thrown away by children, old stamps, withered leaves and anything and everything that draws to the isolation of world of colours.
Born in Nowshera and holding Masters degree in Fine Arts from University of the Punjab, Lahore in 1987, Akhtar creates memories of grand spaces and celebratory processions, Mughal era princes, royal weddings, assemblies, hunts and conquests layered into tapestry of colour, texts and images.
“With the brilliance of colour, line and astonishing vitality of form, these images draw us into a rich world of splendour and fantasy,” said Samina, while talking to Pakistan Today.
She said when she was attending a course on restoration and preservation of architecture at the Lahore Fort, the splendour of sovereignty froze in her mind’s eye.
“In the Mughal edifices built of profound sculpted red sandstone I could see a striking illustration of their peculiar culture in which barbarism and refinement were so strongly blended,” she said.
She said her paintings expressed nostalgia for the past while creating a reference point for the present. “Artists tend to be nostalgic. They portray what is the history. The wheel of time keeps moving and culture changes with it,” said Samina who is holding her seventh solo exhibition at Nomad Gallery.
Through her compositions, Samina questions, celebrates and makes endeavours to figure out a good balance between religion, culture and expectations.
According to Saleema Hashmi, a painter and art critic, Samina’s work looks like graffiti on the walls of a crumbling city. “Shifting through the visual legends of lost lovers in Samina’s work, one may ponder on matters such as these,” she said. The exhibition will continue at Nomad Gallery, House No # 22, Justice Abdul Rashid Road, (Old 7th Avenue), F-6/1, till January 24.