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January 23, 2020

Irfan Cheema celebrates nature, life and heritage


January 23, 2020

Islamabad : Incorporating embroidered Kashmiri textiles as well as exquisite seashell compositions that infuse a totally fresh dimension to his work, a solo exhibition of still life paintings by Shanghai-based Pakistani artist Irfan Cheema opened at Tanzara here on Wednesday.

In fine art, the expression ‘still life’ denotes a particular genre of painting, usually consisting of an array of items laid out on a table. Some of the greatest still life paintings contain complex messages symbolised in the manifestation of objects displayed and the manner in which they are arranged. Hence, when viewing a still life composition, the viewer must be conscious that the items displayed may be symbols, infusing the painting with symbolic significance.

“Cheema is a realist painter, but his paintings are more than an imitation of what is seen. He has the magic of capturing the essence of the vignette that he replicates on canvas,” said Tanzara’s Director Noshi Qadir. Beyond realism, the artist understands his subject matter well. His canvases are well balanced and the imagery fascinating. One can almost taste and touch the fruit or smell the fragrance of the roses and lilies that he renders.

In this recent body of work, Cheema moves away from using fruits, flowers and birds in their pure form. His paintings make references to beauty in its various guises and attributes such as pattern and decoration, nature and sensuality, clarity of colour, luminosity and convincing detail and to symbolic references of femininity and temporality. Beauty seems to be almost embedded within the very subject he paints. His work overall celebrates nature, life and heritage of places that he has visited, lived in and loved!

“This year, for the most part, I remained absorbed in intricate patterns of Kashmir shawls and seashells. These splendid textiles, along with their unmatched elegance, carry tales of a time and a world close to my heart. The fruits, stout and ripe, with delicate skins, symbol of sustenance and bearers of life, also found their way amongst a variety of objects. All these are a part of my existing vocabulary of things with certain connotations. These are leaves, some worn and yellowed with age, others unfurling with highlights dancing on the edges, reminiscent of the omnipresent cycle of life and redolent of our own transience. Almost always there are painstakingly rendered other things, an empty glass or a piece of china, for quiddity or painterly swagger,” Irfan informs about his work.

The exhibition, which offers 26 oil on canvas paintings, titled ‘Repose’ and will continue till January 29.

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