Creating a new realm and turning it into a tangible space for people to occupy, is a skill not every artist has. As if to prove this very concept, an amazing exhibition at Satrang Art Gallery, titled “Occupying the Third Space”, was inaugurated by the Australian High Commissioner Margaret Adamson on 30thAugust, 2017. Featuring three female artists: Nazia Akram, Seyhr Qayum, and Uswa Ahmed, the exhibition aimed to show works that could not easily be bracketed into one or the other category, and thus fell into the ‘third space.’
“All the artworks seem to be very well synchronized and complement each other at the same time,” said Zarah Khan, curator of the exhibition, at the opening. Though the exhibit consists of two dimensional paintings, the artworks have an aura, which adds an imaginary third dimension to their surroundings.
Nazia Akram worked on very personal concepts, while taking inspiration from everything around her. Her work often consists of abstracts and this time she explained her work to be a ‘personal labyrinth.’ She treats her art pieces as experimental depictions of her actual surroundings. Her painting ‘Fight or Flight,’ is such an intricate combination of the real and the abstract that it looks like a painting of the outer space at first glance, until one begins to notice all the birds. The way she has merged the real world with her own imaginary one is quite alluring, and one cannot help but fall deeper into this abstract realm created by her.
The idea of women empowerment is obvious in Seyhr Qayum’s artworks. She has seen both the liberal and conservative side of life, and therefore has a fair idea of what it means to be a woman in both these worlds. Her painting ‘Raising the Flag on 30.3753 N, 69.3451 E’ was an interesting take on the iconic photograph ‘Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima.’ Sehr has replaced the male soldiers with women clad in black, who are raising the Pakistani flag instead of the American one, and the location is no longer Iwo Jima, but instead the middle of Balochistan. All of her work had Pakistani women as strong, empowered members of the society rather than “stale and stereotypical illustrations.” Her life-sized paintings of empowered female figures, such as ‘Here’s Looking at You, Kid,’ where a woman boldly stares back at you, do justice to the idea of showing the Pakistani women as strong and capable rather than as “submissive or troubled beings.”
Uswa Ahmed takes the idea of time and space and puts her own spin on it. She strives to create an experiential universe where time moves differently than it does in the real world. The bright, bold colors used in her paintings elevate the mesmerizing third dimension created in her paintings such as, ‘Into the Vacant.’ Taking multiple objects and warping them into what seems like the view from a spaceship’s ‘hyper-drive’, Uswa develops artworks that genuinely seem to be out of this world. The closer you look the more detail you find tucked away in the bright, dynamic lines and forms of her fictional universe.
The exhibition was truly a sight to behold for the residents of the twin cities. Not only was it a blend of multiple artistic styles, but it was also a platform for these talented ladies to shine. Satrang Art Gallery must be commended for their efforts to put up diverse collection of works such as this one. The exhibition should not be missed by any art lover in Rawalpindi or Islamabad.
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