ART FACTS: Diverse miniatures of our time

-File photo

by Nadeem Zuberi

Dreams and realities enjoying space side by side in an exhibition at Unicorn Gallery, Karachi where fifteen artists alma mater of National College of Arts (NCA), Lahore and College of Art & Design University of the Punjab, Lahore presented their personal opinions and beliefs through variety of contemporary styles in miniature.

Titled “Major Miniaturists” the paintings depict images reflecting realities concealed in symbols and dreams seen with open eyes. Some artists asking questions, others have suggestions while a few seems puzzled and make other puzzle too. But each artist is trying to point out an issue whether political or social. Their themes revolve around history, culture, identity and Mughal period.

Exploring various themes they enjoy their art and also succeeded in providing an enjoyment and awareness to the masses. They create an illusion of reality in paintings by portraying the wishes of people in a symbolic manner. Some paints the desired objects in bold hues which gives a look as if a dream comes true while some have chosen sombre hues to reflect their thoughts.

Raza Ur Rehman portrays body as a shadow and the soul as the real person. He discusses the relation of body and soul. He argues that the shadow has no meaning without real object. Therefore one should put efforts in strengthening the soul not the body which is a temporary abode for the soul. The soul is the one which will reach the paradise the body will be left behind to remain in this world to become dust.

He paints roses as a symbol of paradise gardens. And a human figure having wings represent soul which will fly towards heavens, the eternal abode leaving behind the body in this disintegrated world. Amjad Ali Talpu, Asif Ahmed, Imran Channa and Safdar Ali Qureshi belong to NCA and seem to be much inspired by Mughal era. Based on Mughal culture, heritage and identity their modern miniatures explore traditional art, political intrigue, power and blending history with the modern situations. Their artworks also involve a revival of traditional skills with the experimentation of contemporary viewpoints and technology. They mix Mughal tradition, fusing it with modern elements and through his work he comments on contemporary socio-political events.

Saira Wasim is a modern miniaturist based in USA. Exploring politics and culture through her miniatures she has been exhibited in a number of international museums including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Asian Art Museum thus representing our country internationally through her artworks.

Imran Mudassar, Irfan Hassan and Khadim Ali also touch the topics of politics and social behaviours. Their socio-political miniatures show colours of good and evil. Khadim Ali is a Sydney based artist, his miniatures explore themes of culture and narrates the battle between powerful and weak. It is a hyper-real world created out of illusions in such a realistic way that it blurs the line between true and false, thus making one doubt the ‘real’.

Khalid Saeed, Waseem Ahmed and Mudassar Manzoor tried to explore the sensitive issues of love. The paintings truly depict the various seasons and the moods of lovers and the environment around these paintings attracts the viewers and leads them to certain season and era. The mystifying paintings explore the depths of love – a feeling that makes this world a place to live. The concepts of myths and realities related to love are conspicuous in his paintings. The resonance of music and the poise of serenity personify in the images.