Saturday, February 28, 2015

Visual Arts Degree Show 2014

Sharing a blog here on NCA's MA Degree show. Sharing it not because Artwallaa is necessarily blown away by the artwork or the article itself but rather because it is written be a new contributor who was moved enough to share his thoughts, and that too at an international publication. The more we create written content on Pakistan, the more we introduce Pakistani art to the world.

Kudos to AB Hussain and all new entrants who are trying to add to Pakistani art (AB, thanks for reaching out too).

The more the merrier !

Source: Telegraph

February 20th, 2015 6:22

Review: MA Visual Arts Degree Show 2014, NCA

Let’s just start by establishing a fact, that I’m not an artist, nor a critic.

I might write some average lines sometimes, but I know nothing about visual arts and my knowledge about contemporary art circle in my locality is almost nothing. So whatever I’m stating here is just based upon what I could see and sense with my low artistic-self. Everything coming up in the lines below is just a spectator’s view, not a maestro’s opinion!

I am just a random guy, who had a chance to visit MA Visual Arts degree show at Zahoor-al-Ikhlaq Gallery, National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan, a while ago (Dec 2014). Then I had to visit it again and again! There were things which provoked my interest and actually inspired me to write some of my own “average lines.” I wanted to write about the show immediately, but two concerns held me back;
  1. A show of the most prestigious visual arts’ degree in Pakistan, curated by “The” Quddus Mirza himself, can I write about it?
  2. How lasting are the effects of these visual pieces? Glimpses? Moments? Days? Weeks? Or Lifelong Memorizations?
Now when these effects are just not fading, I’m trying to put them in words.
Let’s talk about the moments in the show first. Asad Ali Changazi’s untitled work, which later on was recognized as the Window, was the first moment of the show. An eye-catching extravaganza of paint and projected visuals, and then you could easily turn towards other festivities! Ali Abrar’s distracted yet calculative coherence, the standard commercial practice, visual catch, and again I could move forward. These were moments of the show!

Then come the Days.
Sadia Farooq’s celestial craftsmanship with acrylics and Fareeha Haq’s hard-worked MFD screens, they really were fascinating to watch for any common spectator like me. The efforts were really evident on their pieces; being prepared for the highest available art degree’s final thesis show in the country, so they did caught my eye for some days. Hard work should be respected! However, then I realized that I’m supposed to be at an art exhibition, these pieces were more or mere craft. For me, there’s a minor difference between art and craft.

The difference between Yanni and A.R Rehman’s music!
The difference between N.M Rashid and Jon Elia’s poems!
The difference between Christopher Marlowe and Shakespeare’s drama!
The difference between Picasso’s “Blue Nude” and his own “Old Guitarist!”
So the respect for craft stayed for a while, but it faded away.

Then were the weeks!
Mehreen Niazi’s boxes and cases, they were as nostalgic as it could get. A tidy army suitcase with lavish interior – depiction of life, from inside out, or outside in. Her pieces actually connected to everyone I think; everyone has an accomplished or an unsatisfied dream! But again, somehow, after few weeks of the show, right when I’m writing these lines, they are fading away. New memories are filling in for old, as her work filled in for such experiments by previous artists. Al Pacino did a great job later on, but everyone knows, he just filled in (or tried to fill in) for Brando!

When I was walking in the corridor, towards the entrance of the show, the small door at the bottom right of the gallery was open. (You have to visit the place to understand the setting, I’m not a writer!)  I couldn’t see the flashing mix media visuals hanging on the right wall, nor was the strange old window artwork interesting, which I could see right in front of me. I entered a bit confused and turned left.

Then I had to visit the show almost daily, had to walk that corridor, had to enter that door, and daily, I had to turn left! I’m just lucky that I was able to locate the artist online and that “left-turn visual” was her cover picture on Facebook!
Lo and behold!

 Sehr Jalil Art Works - MA Visual Art Degree Show 2014
And the transition in both directions!
  1. From surreal existence towards Paradise, and from Paradise to calculative realities.
  2. From colourful life emerging out of death and the hopeful, superstitiously glamorized, singularly originated but branched life turning in to the sublimity of grandeurs death.
  3. From false, innocent hopes turning into religion and religion becoming the vague sense of existence.
  4. The demotion of human race from the Paradise and its unsure struggle towards older sublimity.
These were the four visuals I could see respectively on my left as I walked by, and every time, it took me hours to walk by them. I knew that these artworks probably never be sold for millions, as it might take more than years, centuries, for people to know their worth, in billions!

The artist, Sehr Jalil, surely was the only lifetime impact of the show. An artist, standing at the defining brink of Utopian Promise Lands and actual brutality of hopeful existence. An artist, who know all the tricks of trade, who know how to resolve an art piece; but leaves every piece unresolved at a point, where every eye (and even under-eye) can make the final visual of its own, depending upon its artistic and philosophical sensibilities. She might never be a commercial success, but someone has to carry forward the artistic legacy of contemporary art in this region; she has made a smart choice!

I’m missing names, but as mentioned in the very start, there were some glimpses too!
The show was a success for me. After over a month, when I’m able to finally write about it, I can feel the impact of uncategorised sublimity, uncalculated excellence but a much intended severity of Miss Jalil’s work. If National College of Arts can produce one such artist every year, after some decades, we might still be short of monetary success, but we surely shall not be short of artistic legacies in Pakistan!

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