Seven voices

May 09, 2021

The works of seven emerging artists on display at Full Circle Gallery

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Displacement I by Zainab Aziz.

In his poetry, compiled in Shah Jo Risalo, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai commemorated seven women. Irfan Gul Dahri, an acclaimed artist and curator, takes inspiration from the fasls (chapters) of the compilation. Dahri sees the seven artists from Lahore as the queens of his curatorial book.

The show titled Sat Surmeyon opened at Full Circle Gallery recently. It gives an overview of the work of seven emerging artists who have displayed powerful imagery.

The figurative paintings by Erum Akhtar, Fakhra Asif, Qurtulain Dar, Sana Saeed, Scherezade Junejo, Zainab Aziz and Zainab Mehmood document their perspectives on society, especially the issues frequently brushed under the carpet.

Erum Akhtar’s commanding images show how individuals arrive at their truths and then mask their feelings from the others. She shows that many people live with false reputations, constantly judging others for their intuitive behaviours and forgetting the dark secrets and desires that they are afraid of showing others.

A woman’s body is an object of attention for the male gaze. Every girl and woman is expected to meet the standards of beauty in order to gain respect and acceptance. Fakhra Asif questions the norm through her oeuvre. A figurative artist, Asif has painted the human torso surrounded by two hands. The figure has tattoos on her wrist which the artist also reveals in other paintings including a close-up. She flaunts her tattoos as well as piecing of the belly button, nose and ears. Asif is portraying the bold and confident female who is heroically breaking the barriers and overcoming the taboos that suppress her identity and voice.

Employing a modern technique, Qurtulain Dar explores the dynamics of gender in a society. One of the realistic oil paintings shows a woman taming an angry lion. The lion, symbolising animal strength, is a recurring object in her previous works as well. In an image titled Venus of Gujranwala, a woman looking authoritative sits against a black wall with traditional glittery flowers as of a wedding. The lady appears to be facing the viewer fearlessly.

Creases on bedsheets, pillow covers, fragrance and memories is what Sana Saeed explores in her work. She enjoys painting what one leaves behind. She beautifully capture certain moments and their traces in her paintings appear quiet and untouched. The soft palette used by Saeed shows the transition between memories and messages. In her painting To Catch the First Glance, two young girls are present in a room standing opposite each other. The feel of the images is unfinished – it is like a book to which there are more chapters.

The question of identity is what Scheherezade Junejo highlights in her paintings. Having a preference for oil, she has created her signature images. The drapes have been an important part of her series yet they look different every time one looks at them. The figures ripping a red sheet or drapery actually shift the idea of isolation. Stunning androgynous figures, shown with their back towards the onlookers, are holding their hands across their chests.

Zainab Aziz’s series revolves around hope, trust and relationships. Through her painting, she strongly expresses the idea that betrayal, dishonesty and distrust can make one’s life miserable and colourless. Monochromatic images depict the colourlessness in a character’s life due to jealously and hatred.

Rumours have always been threatening and frightening to people. Zainab Mehmood shares the same tale with different individuals who becomes a target of rumours in a society just because they don’t follow the traditional societal rules.

Mehmood voices the concerns of people who have been judged on the basis of rumours about them. Rumour 1 is open to interpretation yet the title suggests that some people misinterpret tattoos and the way someone dresses.

“The works displayed in this exhibition are voices of seven artists who are not afraid of being judged for taking up taboo topics,” says Irfan Gul Dahri.

The writer is an art, culture and entertainment journalist from Karachi, she can be reached at mmaheenaaziz

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