Re-define, re-interpret, re-articulate and paint | Pakistan Today

Re-define, re-interpret, re-articulate and paint

The first day of the Royaat Art Gallery show titled “After All: An Exhibition of Modern and Contemporary Works on the Theme of Appropriation”, was a big hit. Students of National College of Arts (NCA), collectors and others attended the show. Quddus Mirza curated the exhibition, which presented a wide array of paintings inspired by existing art works. The paintings were bizarre, extraordinary and even satirical, layered with hidden symbolism and interesting messages.
By presenting examples of appropriation, assimilation and critique on other artists’ practices, the show attempted to give the creative process and its links to wider artistic movements, such as realism, surrealism, and expressionism. Paintings from eight artists were selected that sought to reflect an intelligent, layered take on previous art pieces. The paintings have been made using various media and styles. In a striking reinterpretation of “Le déjeuner sur l’herbe” or “The Luncheon on the Grass” by Édouard Manet, Ahmed Ali Manganhar explored the relationship between iconic imagery and an individual’s aesthetic perception.
A more darkened painting than the original one by Manet, this one shows a kind of a bolt of lightening originating from the top of the painting symbolizing the splintering of the scene, where a naked woman and fully dressed men are sitting on the grass. Naqsh Raj’s “The Third Eye” presents a brilliant vision of the world order in the 21st century through the artist’s playful depiction of the world’s leaders seated for a last supper. This was the biggest and the most attractive painting in the hall, immediately attracting viewers.
Sitting in the middle with a halo on his head was Osama Bin Laden, while Bush, Clinton, Blair, Musharraf, Ahmedinijad and other important world leaders, who have been associated with him, gather around him, as if part of his clique. Meanwhile, Ayaz Jokhio’s two paintings touch upon surrealism, reeking of black humour and irony. “This is Not a Pipe”, an original by Rene Magritte showed a simple painting of a pipe, (as if the viewers needed to be told that the pipe was not real). Using this form of irony, Johkio painted as it was painted, and labeled it “This is not Magritte’s Painting.”
Jokhio’s other painting is “Untitled” and is a picture of a window, edged with curtains. Only in a dreamy reflection, the scenery of the garden outside has been ‘broken’ into shards of glass, as if it was painted, in order to reveal similar scenery behind it. Does reality never differ from illusion then in the ordinary world? A fascinating depiction of history and its construction was done in Imran Channa’s Badshahnama series. Channa, who is also a teacher of Fine Arts in NCA says that he selected some real Mughal paintings “ripped” them apart and then rearranged them to prove that this how history itself has been fashioned.
The images themselves consisted of a man being beheaded (probably Bairam Khan) and of a sword wielding prince, (probably Mughal emperor Akbar). The painting has a popular historical narrative to illustrate the non-linear trajectory of history and artistic form. Royaat Gallery Director Faryal Latif said, “The works on display seek to examine the universality of art, as the artists contextualize it and re-cast it through the lens of modernity.”
The exhibition illustrates the dynamism of Pakistani contemporary artists, as they question the space for creativity in modernity and their relationship to iconic historical works of arts. The artists represented here are at the forefront of Pakistan’s creative potential. The show will be on display until May 18. The gallery timings are 10am to 7pm.