Hues of personal and collective memory

January 15, 2023

Eves Eye 2, an exciting group show, features 13 talented women artists at San’at Initiative, Karachi

Hues of personal and collective memory


ontemporary artists draw from a broad reservoir of cultural allusions that question and go well beyond the bounds of art history. An exciting group show, Eves Eye 2, featuring 13 talented and committed women artists with diverse practices, was organised at San’at Initiative, Karachi(December 20to 29).

In Ayesha Durrani’s miniature painting, titled I Carry My World Within Me, multiple-motif red scarfs suggest a slit of the sort—perhaps a rigour and absolute stubbornness, juxtaposed around a blue kamees (top), surrounded by outlines of mannequins draped with solid thread. A depiction of a mountainous landscape, flora and fauna determines the topography. The other work, Elephants in the Room, shows kaftan as a traditional protagonist.It’s a metaphor for the male. With the intrusion of elephants, the heaviness of imperial/oriental burdenis drawn in simplified golden lines.Farazeh Syed’s paintings,I Hear You-1 and 2, reveal enigmatically calming enclosed areas covered with botanical foliage,as the subjectunwinds by detaching herself from the everyday hustle.For centuries, concepts like independence, nobility, fertility and bravery have been represented in the art by birds - frequently employed as metaphors for poets and musicians.

Sana Arjumand’s painting,Love at First Sight, illustrates her characters as universal beings within the usual embodiment of human beings. The ontology of light and ascendance, the symbolism of stars, arching from red to green, disc halos behind figures as evidence of God’s benevolent oversight of humankind, and sacred geometry patterns, all pronounce a fifth dimension.In her painting,Beyond Stars, the character’s intention is deep-seated between herself and the universal energy—a little bird listening to an unheard whisper. The pronounced use of layering textures in Mehr Afroz’s paintings tells the fairy tales transferred to us as conventions. We see a chestnut, episodal gag; an incident; a sporadic narration; a sacred recital, all reminiscent of the past. Afroz, a prodigious observer, believes that history gets dusted over time. However, one must cherish and archive it compassionately.

Haya Zaidi’sMutual Interest and Cordial Relations shows festive colours and celebration with vigour by women. Regardless of shapes and sizes, bright attire/dresses can be worn and the festivity goes on. Her second painting, titled Synthesis, is about the indigenous tradition of applying oil to one another’s head in the evening. Rabeya Jalil’s work deals with curiosity that may enhance one’s capacity to construct phantasmagoricalchronicles. Jalil’s Twenty-Five Eves expresses the elusive flux of reminiscences and characteristics, bringing the formally distinctive caricatured features of people one meets and interacts with. In Women Painting,there are slight differences in sixteen frames carrying an image of a woman each within a larger frame.

Ishmal Rizwan paints eyes, which matter the most when communicating with people, as her subject matter. The eyes tell the story of the struggles of one’s life, fear, anger, excitement, and happiness. They reflect everything.The eyes of the beholders, subjectively and objectively, arrive at the domain of extraordinary human experience—dazed and confused.

Kishwar Kiani explores the multifaceted notions of finding order in chaos and detecting chaos in order through scaffolding as a metaphor. The scaffoldaround any historical monument resembles a conservative family in which the rules bind an individual vertically, horizontally and diagonally in all conceivable dimensions. Her works Echo, Echo…! and Meteor Shower are initial sketches for a larger installation.

Sadaf Naeem draws on imagination. As her work unfolds, one can observe various hues of white and grey in Drift I, the tangled piles of twisted and tied cloth conduits. Her second painting, titled Drift II, shows a torso constructed with twisted and tied fabric furrows with a tattered mess at the end of it, suggesting one’s emotional, physical and mental baggage.

Laila Rehman shows the grief of young demise and what it means to the loved ones left behind, who split into two—emotionally.Her painting, titled Moonlit Nights,suggests views of a fountain from her childhood memory, a comfortable place to play around—covered with banana leaves, in fragments, but not as a whole. The second painting, Beautiful Days, shows cluttered rose flowers in front of the fountain. The dark, thick and smeared streaks of clouds over the white-marbled fountain suggest the feeling that something awful is about to happen or has just happened. Hira Mansur’s watercolour painting Enclosed Therein shows a pair of scissors wrapped in a cloth, rendered in dark green. The outline is pricked by a needle over a dark green gauche, creating a certain ambiguity.In her piece,At The End of Tunnel, the grass is rendered through an animal, a hybrid of a horse and a zebra, fading away. To her, the colour green represents fertility and growth.

Nuraya Shaikh Nabi’s practice probes verticality in her work through narratives of the fragile flux of gender identity—with multiple layers in her prints. Monochromatic tonality offers a range of black in the etched diptych, titled Birthing a Balance, Series IIand Series III with subtle tones and tints, marbled paper with the Chine collétechnique helping the transference matrix, best owing a deferred gratification. Torsos of women with pregnant bellies reiterate the critical role of multiplying lineages — disguised with flowers and leaves, with shaved heads, surrounded by a small but significant number of dragonflies—as herleitmotif.

Saulat Ajmal takes art as a tediously choreographed visuo-spatial exercise. In her painting, Hold on Tight, an exciting conundrum suggests the distilled process of mark-making, internal logic and an ignited sensibility. The idea of deriving—multiplying the singularity of the stroke to summonup the plurality of motion by painting a solid band in the middle of the image, creates a hard-edged boundary that which holds these intuitive gestures apart and keeps them together at the same time. In Sittin’ Pretty, Ajml’s extremely formal concerns seem more enhanced by painting the strokes softly and organically. Yet, small but decisive hard-edged white holes take over the entire image, mimicking life.

The writer is an art/ design critic. He heads the Department of Visual Communication Design at Mariam Dawood School of Visual Arts and Design, Beaconhouse National University, Lahore

Hues of personal and collective memory