October Issue 2015
Art Review: Shazia Zuberi
Walking through the Art Chowk gallery and viewing Shazia Zuberi’s works on display, one could almost feel the water streaming down the pebbles of Naltar Valley. Zuberi’s ceramic collection, on display at the gallery till October 3, is a tribute to the valley and the soil.
The first thing that grabbed my attention was a white face with a plume etched with lines that resemble a feathery crown. Titled ‘The Politician and the Peacock,’ it is a depiction of the fancy crowns worn by self-seeking politicians who profess to serve us. Rivulets of glaze running down the head of the politician symbolise the blood of protesters in the country. Zuberi explains that this piece was not part of the original exhibition, but she included it as it fitted in well with the theme of the other works on display.
The rest of the exhibition, an array of clay pots and vases, tied in with the theme of Naltar Valley. The smooth round vases were a throwback to the pebbles in the valley, while a series of heads modelled in clay refer to the ancient past of the valley. The connecting link between the pieces were the dots painted across the vases and the faces which signified their individuality.
“Shazia has a sensitive approach to ceramics,” says Camilla Chaudhary, director of the gallery. “She is revisiting the practice of working with ceramics, a traditional form of art that seems to be going out of vogue. She deals with the material in a very tactile manner.”
The art work at the exhibition certainly isn’t going out of vogue any time soon. “I wanted my work to give a regional map of the country,” says Zuberi, “The clay is sourced from Hala and is fired at low temperatures. The smooth pebble formations are reminiscent of the erosion of the rocks in the valley. The glazes, which I make myself, represent the lichen that grows on them. I wanted this collection to signify life and existence; there is a very primitive and obscure feel to that landscape when you are there.”
The first time Newsline met Zuberi was in December 2011, prior to her solo show at Chawkandi Art gallery. That year, Zuberi’s display was intended as a tribute to geology. That same aesthetic is evident again, particularly in the model of a face, which is half painted black. Whereas a similar one from her previous show was covered in Arabic script, this one has a smooth onyx glaze. And while her earlier show displayed her affinity for red, here Zuberi has employed greens, blues and golds that symbolise the colours of the valley.
Another work that catches one’s eye is that of three shell-shaped bowls that are fitted in a formation that gives the impression of being embedded in a natural rock. The organic shapes have a fluidity to them that signifies the free-form nature of the shapes they were inspired from.
Zuberi’s work is a testament to the rawness and openness of clay and its ability to be moulded into any form.
This review was originally published in Newsline’s October 2015 issue.