The VM Art Gallery in Karachi is hosting an exhibition of 20 artists from the historical cities of Karachi and Hyderabad under the theme ‘The Highway’. The aim is to promote cultural connectivity and understanding between the people of the two cities through art. The contributors include renowned artists as well as recent university graduates, who have used various forms including sculpture, painting, prints and installation to depict the connection or the ‘Highway’ between the two cities.
Sana Burney, a University of Karachi graduate and a faculty member at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, reflects on the customs and daily practices of people belonging to the two cities, one of which is the culture of consuming tea. Be it thoughtful conversation or just a casual exchange of words, having tea with peers and friends is a much loved practice in both cities. With the green kettles or chenaks hanging from the ceiling, one can contextualize this wall installation titled ‘Conversations’ as a mode people use to talk when making their journey from one city to another. The highway which connects Karachi and Hyderabad has a fascinating culture of small shops and dhabas where people stop by to have delicious food or a cup of the famous cinnamon tea.
Zeeshan Memon, an artist hailing from Jamshoro who now works in Karachi, believes in promoting the work of the Pakistani film industry, where seasoned actors have influenced the public with their styles and gestures in acting. His work ‘Untitled’ is a monotone painting of a female figure wearing what looks like a traditional green dress; however, this form is faceless, which allows the viewer to derive various interpretations from it.
From the recent graduates of the University of Karachi, Hassan Raza has an installation titled ‘Dense City-1’, a work of fine skill in material handling. Using the measurement ruler as the key form, Hassan gives a sense of the crowded city of Karachi which is densely populated by people from all local ethnicities, and has various kinds of architecture, thus making it a truly fascinating city to observe.
Agha Jandan expresses his thoughts in the ‘False Fermentation of Feeble Hope-II’, while Mujeeb Lakho highlights the importance and the sentiments behind the cultural crafts of Hyderabad and Jamshoro. In a similar fashion, Farooque Chandio draws a beautiful sketch of the local baskets that are so reminiscent of Sindhi culture.
Other colorful and attention-grabbing works by Batool Zehra, Anam Shakil, Anas Abro, Meher Un Nisa, Danish Ahmed and Manisha Jiani focus on the cultural linkages between the people of the two cities.
The aim of the exhibition is to foster creativity by fusing together cultural narratives in order to support the artists of both cities. Such collaborations are needed in order to promote intercultural harmony and bring people closer together through art. The exhibition will continue at the VM Art Gallery till January 12.
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