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April 21, 2016

Grotesquely yours — ‘The Bestial’ depicts the animal within


April 21, 2016


Hassnain Awais’ ‘The Bestial’, which went on display at the Artscene galleries from Wednesday, appears to be the visual manifestation of the famous quote; "Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable".

Putting animal kingdom at par with humans, the paintings showing the correlation of both were portrayed in the gallery, curated by Mariam Hanif.

The paintings appeared to be surreal in nature with animal heads juxtaposed on a human body. Awais deliberately used these basic compositions to convey a complex bond as his art explores the animalistic nature found in human beings — however, that instinct needn’t be negative alone rather it could also bring out the peace in humans.  

This was specifically manifested through a few of the pieces in which figures were shown to be wearing ties, symbolising a power-play which resulted in the oppression of the weaker being.

In another piece, a man with the head of a tiger wearing a tie was shown to be ruthlessly pressing on the back of another figure which had the head of an antelope.

Awais’ artwork was a simple representation of how the lust of success drives humans to oppress fellow beings. Frame centrality was maintained in the painting to display a clear dominance of the oppressor.   

Sharing details of his artwork with The News, the artist explained that some of his paintings were a depiction of the corporate sector which he interestingly described as being as lawless as a jungle. “It is big corporations eating away the smaller ones. The word ‘shark’ is aptly used to describe these powerful entities; hence the piece with the head of a shark.”

Speaking of how he made the art pieces, Awais said that he initially took photographs and with a little digital makeup, enhanced the feel.

Commenting on Awais’ work, Mariam said the artwork was impactful, unconventional and shocking to say the least; for it did not fall within the global standards of beauty, hence, was magnificent.

We are habitual of seeing paintings that have a lot of brush strokes, but the artist has used a mixed medium of oil over canvas which makes the concept stand out, she said.

Awais has been working over this ‘grotesque’ idea for around three years and it took him one whole year to execute it.

The heads of aquatic animals have been used to depict the difference between shallowness and depth with the sea being in the main frame.  

Another one of his pieces displayed two different characters, a wolf headed man was shown stabbing another being in the head with a dagger in the head of another fellow. The basic principle of ‘rule of third’ is sustained here, which was a unique manifestation of manipulation.

With several fellow artists being in attendance at the gallery, Abbas Kuman Gar while commenting on Awais’ work stated that the frames were well composed with non-linear strokes which created a sense of depth.

Another artist opined that the nature of humans was portrayed in its literal terms and that the selection of colours and shadows was commendable. The exhibition will continue till April 26.

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