Every once in a while, there comes an art show that ‘speaks’ to the viewer with its striking iconography and innovative concepts. It is after quite some time that I have come across a display of artworks that reflect not only dedication and purpose, but also the mindfulness with which the curator has brought together different artists under a unifying theme. Photographer and blogger Jamal Ashiqain has curated Silent Noise at Studio Seven Gallery in Karachi, where four artists have used their unique skill sets to bring out what “needs to be listened to and spoken about”.
Art today is closely linked with technology, new media and devices that have added a new dimension to how we perceive and interpret artistic endeavours. In this regard, Amna Abbas has worked with mixed media, producing some unconventional artworks. Her most striking piece is an X-ray of a human knee, covered with codes and formulae written in different languages. Abbas has a particular fascination for machines. “If only we search deeply within ourselves, we will crack the code and put meaning to our struggles. Such is the journey of life”, she comments. I find this piece intriguing, as my eyes scan the print to see the varied lettering inscribed on it. This is her attempt to decode the struggle within.
Anam Rani works with resin to create pieces that aim to have an impact on society by providing a socio-political commentary. Each of the sculptures in this collection seems to serve a particular purpose. Amongst the artworks is an illuminated resin bag titled ‘Traces’, packed with images of airplanes. Could this be in remembrance of the lives lost to plane crashes, which have vanished without leaving behind any traces? Other works by her are composed of newspaper clippings, addressing the topics of tragedy and the loss of human lives.
Feroza Gulzar’s work, which is actually a collection of seven juxtaposed art pieces, revolves around the word ‘if’. Using vinyl glass and photographic material, she tries to depict the vast implications of human decisions. Her 4ft by 3ft piece is eye-catching, but fails to offer more as the seven artworks within it are not very exciting. One has to look very closely to interpret the nature of her work, which shows images of doors, windows and mountainous areas. Although the work is intricate, it is not very impressive on the whole.
The most fascinating works are by Warda Memon, who questions the imagery behind the actual ‘self’. Creating pieces filled with neon colours, lines, ropes and sketches, Memon has managed to make an impact through her works, especially ‘Oblivion’ and ‘Mad World’. The latter reflects the self-serving nature of contemporary society, and strikes me for its simplicity as well as its raw feel. ‘Static’ is another powerful piece featuring a woman sketched on photographic material, whose face is obscured. I find Memon’s works to have a fantastic quality, as if coming right out of an artist’s sketchbook.
The exhibition feels almost like a field set for contemporary art, where all artists have come forward with vigour, answering the curator’s call to reflect on the “inaudible clamor” which is humming deep within ourselves, but not being perceived or listened to. The fact that there are only four participating artists has also helped retain quality, and ensure that they do justice to the carefully chosen theme. The show continues at Studio Seven till July 13th.
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