The artists at the Modern Life exhibition allow their imaginations to run wild, mixing the old with the modern with a pinch of religion to spice up the taste buds of the fasting viewer.
The exhibition opened at The Drawing Room Art Gallery on Wednesday, featuring work by five young contemporary artists which aims to explore, in a variety of ways, the collective experience of life in the modern age.
The showcased artists are Ali Asad Naqvi, Madiha Sikander, Sara Khan, Saeeda Nawaz and Julius John.
While some works are relatively more concrete in nature, others rely on the viewers to make sense out of them.
The combination of artworks presented at the exhibition appears to be a recipe of selling an old body in new clothes. Calligraphy and Quranic verses presented in the most modern of ways is a job nicely done, however the ideas behind the works are lost somewhere in the attempt to combine the classic with the modern.
As Sanam Taseer, the gallery owner, explained, “Each artist’s work somehow explores the idea of the modern.” For example, Saeeda Nawaz, she said, suggests the loss of connection with nature in today’s world with her quiet, dark landscapes.
Nawaz’ work, painted delicately with gouache on small canvases, often focuses on a particular aspect of a larger setting, such as a single tree against a bleak backdrop.
The pieces exhibited by both Madiha Sikander and Sara Khan also use paint, but their individual approaches could not be more different. Sikander has created two large, realistic portraits that, although they are painted from water colours, look like studio photographs.
Khan’s oil paintings, on the other hand, are swirling, colorful abstractions that become, as Taseer puts it, “Whatever the viewer projects onto them.”
Ali Asad Naqvi, explaining his own work said it “combines East and West” – namely, the spiritual realm of the first and the material realm of the second – to give “the best of both worlds.” In particular, Naqvi used mixed media such as copper leaf and acrylics to bring together the ancient art of calligraphy and modern images of, for example, the industrial revolution.
The last artist, Julius John, has compiled a series of photographs taken from his window in his predominantly Christian minority neighborhood. The final piece is a series of people passing by on the street – half going one way, half going the other. “I usually photograph cityscapes,” John explained. “I try to show buildings and infrastructures as metaphors for the human organisms that inhabit them. This is my first time photographing those humans themselves,” he said.
Three of the artists in this group show have exhibited at The Drawing Room before. “We try to bring in new artists, and nurture them for their career,” explained Taseer. The gallery, which focuses on contemporary art, usually has a new exhibition every couple of months, she said.