February issue 2009
Landscapes of the Mind
Aasim Akhtar’s Hemisphere was a bold departure from the beaten track. Showing at the Photospace gallery at Labels, the body of work is in the nature of an exploration of form, light and texture.
The eye of the photographer abstracts a number of frames from the world of wind and water, sand and rock.
The monochromatic nature of the work serves to highlight natural forms and patterns. The weather-beaten landscape of the Northern Areas lends itself to the quest in a number of images. ‘Passu,’ for instance, is a lyrical image, swirls of sand around a body of water, reminiscent of clouds.
While the work constitutes a celebration of nature in all her glory, these are dreamscapes into which much can be read. There is a play of opposites, of hard and soft, permanence and transience in the shifting sands and granite outcrops. Stillness contrasts with movement in a diptych titled ‘Badin.’ A large rock takes on a serpentine form in ‘Nagar #2.’
A threat looms large over the Northern Areas, and the mood is brooding in some of these images. ‘Chakdara’ reflects the calm before the storm that breaks over ‘Wana.’ Slivers of light play over the landscape in ‘Drosh.’
The artist stays true to the theme and expression he has chosen and does not hedge his bets by interspersing more conventional images with the landscapes of the mind. The result is a cohesive show that challenges the viewer.
Aasim had his first solo show in Karachi in 1992 at Noorjehan Bilgrami’s gallery, Maharat. While his work has been published and exhibited in group shows since, another solo show has been a long time coming. And a gallery dedicated to photography — the first of its kind in the country — is the perfect space to host it.