Breaking the mold of conventional art

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ISLAMABAD:


An exhibition at the Serena Hotel’s Satrang Gallery is the result of young miniature artists’ attempt to break the mould.

The group exhibition, ‘Breaking the mould’, features a range of young artists from across the country. Although miniature art is known for featuring Mughal-era figures adorned with jewels and intricate borders, these paintings are different.

The group consists of Sumaira Tazeen, Attiya Shaukat, Shiblee Munir, Amna Hashmi, Nizakat Ali Debar, Noureen Rasheed, Sahyr Sayed, Hifza Khan, Mamoona Riaz and Hifza Sakina Akbar.

The first painting that caught the eye was Shaukat’s “Structure”, depicting a large tree trunk, which a figure tried to climb but fell back, depicting a very personal story. After sustaining a serious back injury due to a fall while on hiatus from her thesis work, the play is about the turmoil and struggle she faced due to her injury.

Munir’s work is steeped in history and roots, which is no surprise as he draws inspiration from his grandfather, miniature art maestro Haji Mohammad Sharif.

His paintings are strong but subtle. He paints Mughal history, but without all the pomp and show. Instead, his work is more of a high-pitched jibe of the follies of the Mughals, such as in the piece called “Our Tradition and Our Traditions”, where a battle scene depicts a sword-wielding Mughal army charging.

Moving on, the manga characters in a fantasy world created by Hashmi are another eye-catcher. Besides the painted cartoons, Hashmi’s work also includes delicate pencil on parchment journal, “Latona”, named after the heroine depicted in the pencil-sketched journal.

Since breaking traditional molds seems to be every artist’s theme, Sayed’s work puts the icing on the cake, with six contemporary works focusing on household items as the centerpiece.

Her “Washing Machine” features exactly what its name suggests, a painting of a small washing machine with small pieces of fabric neatly stacked on the side. His installation “Happy home” is the interior of a house carved out of polystyrene.

Rasheed’s “Transition” series wraps traditional miniature painting in a touch of irony.

As everything on this earth has to deal with transition and development, so does the miniature. Perhaps that’s why in her painting, a girl wears a traditional Anghrakha shalwar kameez and khusas, while holding a bottle of Coca Cola with a sphinx cat meowing at her feet; or another girl in traditional clothing is enjoying a lonely picnic in nature with her laptop.

Each artist has added a different twist to their take on contemporary work, one that may not be over the top or groundbreaking, but certainly thought-provoking.

Curator Zahra Khan expressed her views on contemporary miniature art saying, “Miniatures are an age-old art form, passed down from generation to generation. These artists chose to deviate from traditional miniature themes.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 12and2012.

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