Celebrated artist Akram Dost Baloch exhibited his latest collection of artworks at the Satrang Art Gallery in Islamabad on January 17th, 2017. Inaugurated by the French Ambassador, H.E. Martine Dorance, the opening of the exhibition on Tuesday was a star-studded event, with distinguished figures of the industry including Jamal Shah and Muniba Mazari turning up to witness the new works by the acclaimed artist. The guests were astounded by the number of art pieces on display, which included intricate carvings on wood as well as oil paintings on canvas and board.
Akram Dost graduated from the National College of Arts, Lahore, and has been working for the creation and promotion of art ever since. He belongs to Nushki, which is known as one of the most culturally rich towns in Balochistan. Akram seems to have a selfless personality, not merely following his own passion but also working on building the Fine Arts Department at the University of Balochistan, and making it accessible for young people who are interested in the field. He is currently serving as Chairman of the University of Balochistan.
For his latest series, Akram has chosen to depict a simple concept, executed with tremendous skill. Every visitor at the event was able to recognize what Akram has tried to represent – the people of Balochistan: their lives, traditions and culture. The entire collection focuses on figurative works with distinctive Balochi accessories and features. Rather than giving individual titles to the artworks, Akram has named his entire series as ‘Identity’, giving viewers the liberty to perceive each work on their own.
The imagery particularly highlights the women and men of Balochistan. The male figure with a turban, beard and slightly deconstructed features instantly grabs one’s attention. On the other hand, the females have been depicted in wood carvings, with traditional embroidery patterns in the background to counter the disassociation of women with arts and crafts. Akram’s works give a voice to women who want to pursue their dreams and passions.
“This work leads you to have interactive and critical discussions”, said Akram Dost, while elaborating on the concept behind his collection. Zaira Ahmad Zaka, the curator of the show, said that art should be more than just paintings on paper, and that she wanted to display canvases that had depth to them. Eighty percent of these works had not been exhibited previously in any studio, which added an element of surprise to the collection. Zaira deserves praise for planning and curating such a remarkable exhibition in collaboration with the gallery.
Akram Dost is nothing short of a legend in the art world, and it is difficult to fathom the diversity of skill that his hands are capable of. Even with the amount of success he has garnered over the years, he is still proud of his roots, and continues to work for the promotion of his culture. He uses art as a medium to give a voice to those who have none, and to bring the beauty as well as the issues facing remote cultures to the limelight.
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