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A versatile artist

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By Maheen Aziz
Tue, 05, 21

“I want to leave a legacy through my work as someone who provoked conversation and thought,” – A.S. Rind

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A.S. Rind is a Karachi-based artist. Born and raised in Rahim Yar Khan, he was inspired by his uncle who was a poet, and there found his calling for incorporating the very lyricism that inspired him into great works of art. Rind graduated from CIAC (Central Institute of Art and Craft) Karachi, in 1988. He continued to study art and explore contemporary styles of painting.

Rind found his unique personal idiom in the new millennium by fusing moods and styles with great success using oil or acrylic as his medium. The inspirations that Rind has drawn from the rich culture and heritage of his hometown are creatively incorporated in his paintings. With oil on canvas being his major technique, Rind’s paintings are an abstract but a meaningful play of lines and colours.

His work revolves around various moods of traditional and modern women in Pakistan. He depicts different moods of a feminine spirit with commendable craftsmanship and intricacy. Inspired by the poetry of the masters; Ghalib, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Alama Iqbal, Rind illustrates his thoughts with portraiture portraying delicate female forms in colourful traditional dress and jewellery and classic symbols creating a narrative often accompanied by the poets text.

The artist’s experimentation with line, form, colour and script has evolved into a different league. In fact, use of a blend of varying colours in harmonious tones in the background is Rind’s signature style. A.S. Rind work has frequently been shown in exhibitions shown in Pakistan and abroad. He has a number of solo exhibitions to his credit and a long list of admirers.

The recent show of A S Rind titled ‘Awaz-e-Jaras’, hosted by ArtCiti Gallery, Karachi was an interesting one. As mentioned earlier, Rind is renowned for his stylised representation of women, giving them long necks, sensual features and voluptuous figures, and adorning them with ethnic jewellery. His recent exhibition ‘Awaz-e-Jaras’ also revolved around women. It showcased the renditions of female forms draped in native attires and ornaments, often accompanied by motifs of birds, leaves or musical instruments, created a rather lively and picturesque work of art, aided by a vast and vibrant colour palette.

However, this time, Rind thought of challenging his own techniques and represented something out of the box. In ‘Awaz-e-Jaras’, he did not include Urdu poetry in his own style of calligraphy within the paintings. “This is the first exhibition in which I haven’t added poetry on bigger canvases which makes this work different from my past series,” shared Rind.

In a few images, there are neither quotes nor poetry, seems like they have been rubbed away from the canvas. One instantly notices this change in the paintings and feels more about it as the space is there but words are missing. The poetry has been so much a part of his series that Rind has made his audience a reader who would say a poetry looking at him even if it’s missing on his canvas.

These seemingly larger than life beings carry a badge of cultural influence and affinity, an ode to the women of the artist’s native city. His figurative work and portraiture often reflects a solemn mood, especially the ones where colour is entirely absent and the work succumbs to raw honesty and truth, urging the viewer to attest to the figure’s emotional identity and in turn reflect on their own individualism. These figures, always unsmiling and wide eyed, as though harbouring the sight to see the bitter reality of this world, capture the essence of what the artist termed as ‘the tortured soul’. In a jarring visual contrast, the artist’s more colourful and vibrant ventures along with motifs of birds, cages, roses and so forth only condone this very appeasement; adorning the reality of life with ornaments and grace.

Even though he has had origins in realism, expressiveness spills onto Rind’s recent works through action painting and abstract line quality which inculcates texture and adheres to narratives that the artist depicts. His work could also easily be seen and read as a rhyme of his home place, each work proclaiming the culture and heritage that surrounded Rind in his nativity and early life, each figure in portrayal paying homage and celebrating the regional chronicles and aesthetics of his life.

The charcoal sketches of Rind are true portrayal of truth which is colourless, indecipherable sometimes. His self-portraits appear distorted, angry and straight-faced portraying a certain harshness that comes about in people succumbing to the reality of this world. One would not might notice the absence of hues in these sketches as the geometric shapes, patterns and other elements still remain a part of his canvas, however, are appealing to an onlooker in a different way.

The female sketches appear brasher than the vibrant and colourful oeuvre because the colour black creates a decisive strength and filter the prowess and core aspect of the artist which often gives forth a feeling of fortitude. The deliberate touch of resilience is finely polished by the expressive quality of his charcoal and the general disposition of the persona and shape portrayed. Such as ‘Cheekhta hun magar sada koi nahe’ is quoted by the artist instead of poetry on one of his charcoal drawings. The despair, depression and wrath of an individual of not being heard were intensified by the deep, thick and penetrating marks of charcoal.

As versatile as he is, Rind leaves his bodies of work to interpretation, not taking it upon himself to cement any precedence but only aiming to ignite conversation and leave a lasting legacy of thought. The recent set of paintings unfalteringly advocates Rind’s individuality as an artist and revolutionary approach for a radical change. He has pushed his boundaries as an artist, challenged his own strengths and explored within his own medium to present an extremely refreshing and spell-binding oeuvre. Few may construe his work as an accolade to beauty or for a few it might be a relatable narrative of lost identity and search for truth, or maybe social injustices. In Rind’s own words, “As an artist, I am not bound to express or agree with somebody else’s ideas and thoughts,” which only serve to attest to his free and liberated process of work, leaving viewers in awe.