The Canvas Gallery is hosting an art exhibition titled ‘Toxic Liquid’ that features works by Saba Khan, while the Sanat Initiative is hosting an art exhibition titled ‘A Study of Suffering and Sacrifice in Old Masters Works’ that features works by Zahid Mayo. Both shows are running at the respective galleries until November 23.
According to the catalogue released by the Canvas Gallery, Saba’s body of work takes the viewers through a fable without a beginning or an ending. Exploring bodies of water manned, cut and destroyed by infrastructure made by power for power generation, it alludes to beastly bodies of crocodiles who are rulers of waters and govern hierarchies.
While the complex local water system with its five rivers was altered and reshaped to build a nation, it also left out many others from benefiting from it. The rivers and bodies of water today, through neglect and mismanagement, have become a part of the sewage system and have turned into a slurry of toxic liquid.
Complex piles of files, bureaus and desks make a labyrinth of operators. The work also refers back to the fieldwork done in the artist’s previous work and the use of uniforms that signals at colonial girl guides and the state aircraft’s air hostesses, women left at the peripheries of the modernity project.
While searching for literature on water, the fable is drawn and expanded from writer Aamir Hussein’s book titled ‘Another Gulmohar Tree’, in which in order to survive the toxic environment, people voluntarily jump into rivers to turn into thick-skinned crocodiles.
Saba’s work shapes around the language of memorial, monuments, water projects and expeditions. She balances grandeur, artifice and satire in order to explore the cracks in the structures.
She founded the Murree Museum Artist Residency (2014-2020) and a satirical artist collective Pak Khawateen Painting Club (PKPC, 2019) triggered from the commission of Lahore Biennale ’02.
Her shows and residencies include the Delfina Foundation (2023), the Sharjah Biennale 15 (2023), the Onassis AiR (2022), the Jameel Art Centre (2022), the Paul Mellon Centre (2021), the Lahore Biennale (2020), ‘ONE’ at COMO Lahore (2019), ‘Zinda-dil-a’an-e-Lahore Billboard Project’ (2020) that was an initiative of the Lahore Biennale Foundation, the Karachi Biennale (2018) and the New York Times (2018).
Her grants include 421 (2022), the Foundation for the Arts Initiative (2018), the Sharjah Art Foundation (2020), the Graham Foundation (2020) and the British Council (2020, 2021, 2022).
Her work is also part of the collections of the Sharjah Art Foundation (PKPC) and the Ford Foundation, and has been published in the New York Times, the Stir World and the Asia Art Pacific.
A Study of Suffering
According to the catalogue released by the Sanat Initiative, Mayo is a Lahore-based visual artist and Punjabi poet. He was born in rural Punjab, where he learned calligraphy and got his basic education.
He moved to Lahore to study art, and joined the National College of Arts in 2008. He graduated as a painter in 2013. His work is about time, spaces and people from an individual’s perspective.
Many of his paintings are part of public and private collections. He has also created public art in Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi and Hunza, while many are scattered around his motherland Punjab.
Mayo continuously strives to expand his understanding and share his knowledge. In his perspective on art, he believes artworks should serve as a testament to the artists. The current series began as an exploration of existing works by renowned artists and contemporary visuals.
While originally focused on studying the parallels between mythical and religious texts and art, the recent conflict in Palestine inspired him to delve deeper into establishing a connection between Jesus and Palestine. Consequently, Mayo created a few additional pieces addressing this connection that are part of this solo presentation.
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