July Issue 2013, June Issue 2013

By | Art Line | Published 7 years ago

At 600 square yards, the new Momart Art Gallery is massive. The gallery, whose name is inspired by the Montmartre hill in Paris where artists such as Salvador Dali, Piet Mondrian and Pablo Picasso had lived and worked, held its grand relaunch in Clifton recently. Shammi Ahmad, the brain behind the gallery and a seasoned artist herself, mentioned that traffic and parking issues led to the decision to move from Shara-e-Faisal to its present location. She added that while they have had fewer visitors due to the elections and current situation in the country, the grand inauguration of the gallery managed to draw around 300 guests, with the dean of IBA, Ishrat Hussain, present as a special guest of honour.

Wide, open spaces with works by 68 artists welcome visitors to the gallery. Ahmed, who has been running Momart for the last 20 years, planned on holding the current exhibition for a month, but extended it to two months due to an overwhelming response from visitors. The current exhibition hosts many paintings and sculptures — ranging from the bizarre to the beautiful — by well-known artists such as Mehr Afroz, Najmi Sura, Tabinda Chinoy, Ather Jamal, Nahid Raza, Hajra Mansoor, Qudsia Nisar and the legendary Jamil Naqsh. The gallery also features the works of up-and-coming artists like Ali Abbas from Sindh who paints vivid images of nomadic life, Sayeda Habib with her melancholy ink-on-paper series, ‘Stories from the Womb,’ and Salman Farooqi, who creates works of joy and colour to paint over the gloom and doom of reality. There is only one photograph in the entire exhibition, that of the young yet established photographer, Izdeyar Setna. Ahmed also pays tribute to the late Mohammad Kazim, Cassim Mapara and Mansur Aye by displaying a few of their paintings as “a space to remember them.” With abundant space, the gallery will be happy to host art-related events and book launches in the future, says Ahmed.

The seemingly shy and reserved Ahmed becomes animated when she speaks about her 12-year-old granddaughter, Cerenne — a budding artist with two of her works titled ‘Sunset Drops’ displayed at the exhibition — and her Pollock-like painting style which results in works of art, as well as a complete mess of the floors in her house.
Four of Ahmed’s own paintings are also on display at the gallery, placed reverently under the works of her mentor, Jamil Naqsh. Ahmed says, “Jamil Naqsh is my guru. Everything I learnt, I learnt from him. In fact, I am still learning.” In keeping with this spirit of reverence, Momart is preparing a section in the gallery that will serve as a permanent museum for Naqsh’s works.

The writer is a journalist and former assistant editor at Newsline.