An exhibition of exquisite paintings and prints by seven remarkably talented artists opened at Nomad here Friday. The opening of the show, which was arranged to commemorate National Women’s Day, was followed by screening of a documentary ‘Posheeda Qadam,’ which focuses on the history of the Women’s Action Forum (WAF).
The commemoration was a way to stoically highlight the struggle for women's rights in Pakistan; this journey is marked by 30 years of resistance, demand, protest and challenges. “We, the Progressives, the labour class, and the masses cannot afford to give up. It is crucial to remain steadfast and proactive in solidarity to create a more conducive, just, egalitarian and peaceful environment for all in Pakistan,” the director of Nomad and the producer of the documentary stated. The documentary primarily focuses on violence against women and youth.
The exhibition features the work of Irum Wani, Komal Shahid, Meherbano Khattak, Nadia Rahat, Saima Beenish, Saima Salahuddin, and Shireen Gul.
“With an emphasis on the growth of an everyday woman living in a social construction predominated by the opposite gender, my work focuses on the elevation of a female as self, an individual and collectively, from hopelessness to empowerment—socially, legally politically and also economically,” Irum Wani mentions in a written statement.
Irum believes it is about time existing viewpoints were replaced by adopting, as a female, personal fundamental ideas and values. “But this, in no way, means replacing the inherent qualities of her gender; rather, there is a need to channelize it to extend further into the realm of the limitless opportunities of self-growth and self-dependency,” she added. The series of work done in graphite, ‘The contemplation of a female mortal,’ is a symbolical representation of the interminable struggles of the female soul during times of turmoil.
As a miniaturist, Komal Shahid’s focus has been on the fusion of traditional with contemporary style. Each symbol, element and detail amplifies her, she has interest in exploring and experimenting with various mediums and surfaces. Together with Wasli, I experimented on wooden surfaces and traditional handmade paper. Her miniatures extend from traditional to conceptual and eventually experimental.
“There lies something provocative in trying to derive, define and incorporate a sense of individuality, being a female, with the society that engulfs us, and therefore, my work relies and portrays a combination of traditions, and contemporary style along with societal dogmas and stigmas,” Komal said. Her new series of painting highlights the girl, the woman through symbolism as “she is the moon, the tide, the sea shell and the painted lady.”
Meherbano Khattak’s series of digital weave is dedicated to five common ladies who played an important role in her life while she was growing up. “I observed and adopted their personality traits which in return made me the human I am today. In my belief, we are responsible for leaving better people behind,” the artist stated. Meherbano lost her mother at the age of 13, after which she lived with various relatives. During these years, she observed all types of scenarios, family issues, etc. “I was fortune enough to be with these ladies and to adopt the good trait which I would have only learnt from my mother,” she added.
Nadia Rahat’s work is a celebration of women who dare to raise voices to be heard and change the perception of the world to see that strength. “In these works, I strongly support the view as put by Harriet Beecher Stowe ‘Women are the real architects of society.’ Women are threads that run though the fabric of society and shape the future, given love, respect and opportunity to act as change agents,” she said.
Nadia’s conceptual concerns are based on continuous search for truth related to the illusions and realities that surround us. “My work is an attempt to address and understand the reasons that led to various issues on personal, social and political fronts, affecting us individually and collectively,” she added.
Saima Beenish’s work is inspired by nature. “Each plant I see around me has colours and patterns that are exclusive to its kind. A person has to be blind to not remain unaffected by the endless might of Allah, who is the creator of nature,” she briefly stated. Saima uses gouache, inks and thread on ‘wasli.’
Saima Salahuddin’s work focuses on the invincibility of the woman who, in the words of Aimon, “is like a tree rooted deeply into the ground.”
Shireen Rasul’s intention is to stress upon two major aspects regarding women’s empowerment namely, society and the inner consciousness of a woman. “Women are often expected to behave in a certain manner in accordance to the rules set in this patriarchal society. Moreover, she is also expected to face the negative consequences if she rebels or diverges from norms. At times, she is not accepted the way she is. Constant suppression ultimately enslaves her, which is against her basic right. Unfortunately, many women try to fit in so as to get acceptance in the society to survive,” Shireen stated.
Shireen believes that a woman is stronger than what she thinks. “Self-realization and self-awareness of abilities is the fundamental step towards women’s empowerment. If she doubts her own capabilities, it will take her nowhere. She should believe in herself even when others demotivate her or become a barrier between her goals. I have depicted this fact by incorporating black jaguar in my work as a symbol of strength and power,” she stated.
The exhibition will remain open until February 20.
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