May issue 2011
Art Review: Aqeel Solangi
Aqeel Solangi has the memory of a young man: it is both obsessive and selective. To date, his work has been an expression of his feelings towards the origins: passage, decay and vastness of time. Solangi continues to grow as a surrealist artist with each of his solo exhibitions.
In his exhibit, “Vus’at e Bahr o Bar,” held at Koel Gallery, Solangi remains captivated by the theme of memory. He divides his canvases using assorted colours, textures and terrains to represent different layers of thought, including dreams and hallucinations. The present’s ability to instantly become a memory torments the artist. Thus, he clings to subjects that appear to resist the passage of time. The eternity of desolate deserts, endless seas, cracking walls and uncertain skies haunt his works.
Solangi explores the theme of creation in this series. In one painting, a blue moon recalls all its phases. In others, cells are magnified, symbolising Solangi’s search for an absolute beginning; colour rains into petals and petals turn into periwinkles representing the process of Solangi’s art; and a row of mud houses evoke rural Sindh, the place of his birth.
Images of flowers and birds signify the artist’s attempt to reconcile with time. Periwinkles glow in a disc-like halo giving prominence to the artist’s happier memories. In his past works, an apple, seashells, cactus and doves, objects that Solangi felt resisted the tough terrain of time, earth, sky and sea, were placed on this periwinkle halo. Now, sunflower seeds have been added to this list, as they too have the potential to defy their circumstances. In Sindh’s dusty terra firma, fields of sunflowers bring colour to the landscape.
Spirituality also defies time: it does so by rising above it. The vibrant lotus flower with a gilt halo in Solangi’s ‘Untitled’ painting, is inspired by themes from oriental and occidental religious art. It marks the first time Solangi has changed his colour palette. In the artist’s past exhibits we saw stems reaching into his memories (periwinkle discs) trying to surface. In this exhibit, three years later, the stem has broken through and a lotus, the symbol of enlightenment in oriental wisdom traditions, has emerged.
One of the final pieces of this show was of a pigeon flying across two canvases, ‘Departing’ from the pleasures of its memory, as the blue periwinkle disc suggests, and progressing to a state of mind that isn’t consumed by the past.
This article originally appeared in the May 2011 issue of Newsline under the headline “Dreamscape.”