Thursday February 29, 2024

More to art than what tricks the eye

By Our Correspondent
November 16, 2017

Optical illusions can be fascinating for many as the idea of an image tricking the eye can captivate the mind for hours. However, it takes great depth for an artist to create an image which could cast an optical effect on the viewer.

Artist Ghulam Hussain’s exhibition, titled ‘Mind=Blown’, sought inspiration from an art form which possesses enough weight to shape a movement in the 1950s. Known as ‘Optical Art’, the movement saw artists putting abstract patterns that were put against a background, creating a dichotomy between the background and foreground.

Hussain’s work uses ‘Op Art’ to show a connection to Sindhi roots where the art of ‘rillies’ and ajrak explores the world of patterns. But while there are many colours used by the artisans, Hussain primarily uses two colours, black and white, to produce close-knit boxes on the canvas. This way the artist thinks of the ‘Op Art’ movement as the modern form of ‘rillies’.  

Using the medium of graphite on weaved canvass, the tiny boxes growing a bit in the centre to get reduced to their previous shape confuse the pupils as one eventually looks away from the piece to get rid of the illusion.

Weaving is an art which dates back to centuries and is considered an endangered art; however artists like Hussain seem to be determined to revive it by employing it in modern ways. Artist Asad Hayee feels that Hussain’s work is very calculated and complicated at the same time to present the illusions of the reality and a superficial world. “On close inspection of these works one gets to notice is the rough edges of the canvas that breaks the beauty of the illusions.”

Another artist, Aniqa Imran believes that Hussain’s work revolves around the idea of perception. She states that the artist’s work is governed by a context from which evaluations and observations are made.

Referring to the idea behind ‘High Art’ and ‘Low Art’, she thinks that the artist has taken traditional craft to be ‘Low Art’ and ‘Op Art’ as High Art: “However, it would be hard to make assertions about the underlying meaning of art without the previously established notions of the value that come from multifaceted perceptual conditionings.”

Hailing from Hyderabad, Hussain is a visual artist who acquired training in miniature painting from the National College of Arts, Lahore, and he strives to challenge the notion of high art and low art forms by integrating both of them. The exhibition concluded on November 14.