The NCA Degree Show should be – if it is not already – the social event of the year; something that the creatively starved twin cities look forward to with impatience and excitement. While the works put up every year are always a visual treat, some years do tend to be stronger than the others; this year was a mixed bag!
While you had the regulars – Textile, Fine Arts and Architecture – this year also saw the debut of the Design Department’s work, in which the selected topics were dealt with such detail that the batch hardly seemed like the first one to be graduating. The display itself was spread across three buildings, including the recently constructed “New Building.” The works displayed can be described as a mix of inquiry, commentary, and conceptual/material exploration, varying in techniques ranging from printmaking to painting to elaborate installations; while others went above and beyond.
Seema Mangi’s display “Conscious of the Unconscious” fell into the latter category – her installation consisted of a floor covered with colorful pillows, while sketches of everyday scenes collapsing into swirls, hung above. The piece reflected the out of control and obscure thoughts one has.
Safwan Bashir’s work comprised of an installation of brickworks and wood, while his paintings captured the layers of our urban existence. This multi-faceted work, presented through a varied choice of material, captured the loss of one’s identity within an ever-expanding urban jungle.
The work of Shizma Kamal and Malaikah Khan also deserves a shout out! Kamal’s “Khum” (no straight lines, as the artist explained) references pedophilia and the uncomfortable touch. The installation forces one to pass through a tight alley, covered with, what is supposed to be skin – you can not pass it without being touched, thus creating a perfect sync of concept and execution within this piece. Malaikah’s work “Ebb and Flow” talks about the ups and down that manifest themselves in multiple ways. You can take it quite literally – in the movement of water, which is the choice of material for this artist, or you can find a deeper meaning in it. The installation draws you to itself through the sound of waves, which echoes down the corridor. Once you enter the room, you are instantly drawn to the main piece, comprising of transparent plastic shoppers filled with water, hanging from a frame and thereby mimicking the movement of a wave.
Sania’s Mushtaq’s “Rah Guzar” allows one to glimpse into households and everyday scenes. Captured in three-dimension and framed with windows and doors, her work plays on light and shadows through enhancing certain details. The intricate embroidery effectively captures artifacts found in households, thereby creating impressive and intimate images.
Tragedy comes through in the work of Fayyaz Hussain, where an installation of a jute mat, with blood and slippers splattered across it, is a sad but very realistic reminder of the many attacks that have taken place across the country in places of worship.
“Experiencing the Shades of Brown” by Shahaan Ahmed Shah explores the color brown in various forms. Using organic material such as animal hair and skin, his work explores the human face, age, transience and decay. The several large-scale pieces seem to pounce on the very moment in which an object is eradicating its own self, capturing it in all its wonderful but gruesome glory.
Throughout the show, particularly in the Architectural Thesis, connections can be drawn with KPK and Gilgit Baltistan. Work by Faiza Rehmat “Alii Mama” is one such story that has been executed in intensely detailed pieces. The design thesis by Taimur Khan focusing on the revival of traditional KPK games is another noteworthy example. Hussnain Ali’s “The Legend of Shiribadat” provided one the chance to indulge not only into a folktale, complete with detailed illustrations, but also in an environment which did justice to the tale. “Fiddling Studio” by Haseebur Rehman also stands out in the design lineup. The animated work captures a wide variety of characters, and the simple lines make this work full of fun.
There are certain things that the administration can look into, to make the overall experience of the degree show a better one. Unfortunately, titles and concepts of the works weren’t appropriately displayed. Moreover, the absence of the students left one with regret for not having met these wonderful budding artists. A lot of the rooms and displays were locked or had already been taken down. Nevertheless, one came out feeling hopeful that the twin cities are cultivating strong artistic talent, sure to change our cultural landscape.
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