Tranquil seclusion

May 16, 2021

Faizan Riedinger’s solo show at Art Chowk Gallery speaks of peace and harmony

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Art enthusiasts seldom come across work that is unaffected by the chaos and distractions in the society. What Do They Say, a solo show by Faizan Riedinger, was an exception? Curated by Humayun Memon and co-curated by Huma Tasawwar, it was far from everyday disruption and offered serenity, tranquillity and peace.

Dressed in black, the artist and the curators warmly welcomed the guests. Asked the reason for their choice, curator Humayun said they had picked black for its grace. It was not meant to symbolise mourning, he said.

The curators changed the interior of the gallery: walls were monochromatic to go with the theme of the show and the sharp lights drew spectators’ attention towards the art pieces. Overall, this made for a mesmeriszing display that beckoned viewers to focus their attention on the 28 brilliant pieces.

Music played a central role in creating this meditative ambience. Faizan used his prowess as a musician to create powerful sounds that transported the visitors into a trance-like state. The gallery shielded the viewers from the pandemonium outside.

From a distance, the first three works Fiqh, Sabr and Haq on the right wall showed Arabic letters, written with archival ink on adhesive labels. These labels were not aligned and appeared free from constraints. Perhaps, they were meant to show the randomness and irregularity of life. Haq was more clustered than the other two pieces – Fiqh, Sabr – showing the struggle of the righteous.

Thomas Merton has said that “art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” The display showed that art is an extension of the artist’s soul.

The works, Re-settling, Resettling 2 and 3 were an extension of the idea that the artist implied through Fiqh, Sabr and Haq. However, they were placed in an undeviating way to help people easily delineate the concept. The coherent modern calligraphic texts left viewers in awe because the artist used these as symbols of his meditative journey. In Completion, the text vibrated through the canvas as if the words were alive, pulsating and forming shapes and words while also having an influence on the mind.

One Eye Shut And One Eye Open were video installations that expanded and shrank when viwers looked at them through a lens. Growth and Inquiry were 122 small clay black painted bowls glittering silver calligraphic text under the warm light. Each clay bowl had a different text on it. Expansion was a collection of six small glass bottles with Arabic text on them. The white light hitting the base of the bottle from the top and reflecting back upon the text made it look sacred. The artist conveyed the connotation beyond the objective and into the realm of the indefinite. Placed in the middle of two walls, these three installations permitted a smooth segue from the white-theme works displayed on the right wall to the black thematic works on the left wall.

Unravel 1,2,3,4 and 5 appeared to be a puzzle with some pieces missing. The text in black on the white sheen foam and background indicated individual gestures. Abstract calligraphy is an element that Faizan uses to express the unknown which he explores and challenges by incorporating geometric forms.

“I wanted to experiment with white, gray and black tones because I see them as colours of life. I wanted to explore the possibilities of existence and unfelt presence of mental peace and harmony,” Faizan said while talking about Pulsation.

“Through my previous job at the NAPA and now at the Goethe-Institut, I have had a chance to work with several artists and curators on an international level. This is my first time officially co-curating an exhibition. I have known Faizan Riedinger for many years and have seen his work evolve and mature. When I heard that Humayun was curating his solo show and needed help to put it together I gladly volunteered to be a part of it. Another reason is that we don’t have too many artists who have no formal training in showcasing their work at galleries,” Huma Tasawwar said.

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

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