Depicting life through indispositions

Maheen Aziz
March 31, 2020

This week You! takes a look at the artist Talha Rathore's recent solo show titled 'Indispositions' held at Chawkandi Art Gallery in Karachi...

Share Next Story >>>


The modern aesthetics in miniature paintings are a culmination of traditional miniature with western and postmodern techniques and innovations. Miniature medium is considered as a medium to weave oblique narratives, yet Talha Rathore's recent solo show titled 'Indispositions' was an interpretation of personal experiences, observations and surroundings. The show was recently held at Chawkandi Art Gallery in Karachi.

Talha Rathore is a modern contemporary miniaturist who studied from National College of Arts. The veteran artist displayed a series of miniature paintings executed gouache on wasli and archival paper. She brought various aspects of human life under the microscope of art to debate over neglected issues, discussed individual's stories, and highlighted the process of exchange of energies, dynamics and evolution of forms and nature.

The artist does not believe in shifts of subjects although she enjoys the process of exploration and experimentation in her work. She commented upon the crises she has observed through the years of her life. She used flowers, seeds and plants to show the natural phenomenon and how these organisms play a role in changing the dynamics of an individual's life. An array of artworks produced during different years of her career showed her strong connection with her art work and how she wanted her viewers to speculate and witness the evolution. At a glance, the displays looked like trees with falling green leaves surrounded by different shades of reds. However, on a closer examination, it turned out to be unicellular microorganisms grown over trees and swaying in different directions. In a blink of an eye tiny bacteria would also look like tiny eyes seeing through the paper.

Rathore relished manipulating the meaning and depiction of her work, thus, in a few of her paintings a delusional affect is deliberately created to let the thoughts flow. She discussed the feeling of constant discomfort of being observed and policed. The spread of red hues around the paintings indicated spread of viruses and growth of bacteria that are meant to invade human; either they live inside the human to provide specific benefits to the human body or invade the human but there is no escape from them.

Her work titled Deception II from 2009 in the exhibition was also added to share that notion. Two large sized amoebas floating against a traditionally rendered surface were painted over a piece of map. It narrated her journey and gave an insight to her experiences. Rathore claimed that her work might be undecipherable but represents her and her intense annotation of her surroundings. Minuscule detailing in each painting with the choice of subtle colours was refreshing to the eyes whereas the careful and nimble strokes enhanced the beauty of the medium and vividly exaggerated the significance.

The artist spoke through her paintings and shared stories that one could relate to. The trees, refreshing colours like greens, pinks, lime evoked freshness, joy and positivity. The detailing and shift of sizes of the microorganism was interesting to observe. She used different lighter and darker shades of greens in her oeuvres to specify the growth and maturity of the trees and chose to paint truck in rustic shades. The trees are not painted in their actual forms but distorted. These forms were actually a representation of affected bodies of individuals. Two separate pieces, Polluted speculation I and II gave a false impression of swaying movement of a tree while it depicted mental health and behaviours of individuals. Mental health being a major component in shaping one's behaviour and life Rathore showed the trees are exposed to virus that was growing inside them. She claimed that mental health and behavioural issues that are taken for granted will spread like a virus if not cured. It was interesting to notice the exposure of the natural phenomenon that affects human's psychology and socio-political scenarios. Being a Muslim and currently based in New York, she believed, especially after 9/11, that Muslims are always monitored; they are judged by their appearances and lifestyle. She sees the current scenario of the world as a virus that is treacherously spreading.

Adamantine placed on the front wall of the gallery struck everyone's eye. Three large paintings put together like pieces of puzzle. Two trees were shown coming together, twisting and then growing in opposite directions. The process was shown so beautifully that it would take a while for a viewer to observe the details. The virus was illustrated with dark red and pink colour seemed to be growing within the individuals and spreading in the environment more powerfully after they merge together. The broken lines drawn in a pattern on the surface of each painting referred to lines that separate lanes travelling in the same direction. Rathore made these lines to show different journeys and phases of life of an individual. These patterns and lines are equally noticeable as the rest of the painting.

The borders of these paintings were outlined with red and minute white delicate motifs drawn at a calculated distance from one another that gave a touch of traditional miniature style. Nevertheless, Rathore challenged the medium throughout her display by exploring innovative interpretations.

More From You