April issue 2010
The New Wave
In the hunt for the new and the novel, one came across a fresh batch of art and artists at the “Young Blood” exhibition shown recently at Canvas. Following independent lines of inquiry and choice of media, the work by the four women artists was, nonetheless, accentuated by strong working skills and imaginative renditions that are bound to propel them into the existing pool of young artists presently making waves.
Sausan Saulat, who graduated from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in 2006, first caught the public eye through her degree project paintings, and the potential evident in her work then is beginning to bear fruit now. Furthering her initial theme of preoccupation with self, she now talks about “post-graduate disillusionment” and “breaks in creativity, disruptions, the incubation of self-doubt and the acute withdrawal symptoms that follow.” A circular oil and pen on canvas painting titled ‘It’s a Still Life’ is literally a (body) clock simulation illustrating her inertia. Here, the artist’s figurative self is drawn in various stages of sleep, snooze and slumber mode to form the digits of a clock. Likewise, works like ‘The Space Between’ and ‘How’s it Hanging’ capture growing pains and the desire to hang on to the comfort zone of childhood security. Giving meticulous attention to body language and textural nuances, Saulat handles figurative realism with considerable panache and her slant towards contemporary pop enables her to liven this realism with the quirkiness of youth.
Vastly different in approach, Dua Abbas Rizvi focuses on making public the personal and private through the female form. Reveries, musings and close conversations peculiar to young girls are well captured in soft renditions of pastel in a minimal palette of dark hues tinged with pale pinks and greens. But it is the naturalness of the intimate inner self, the cosiness of the near dream reality enveloping the figure(s), that draw in the viewer. This artist can capitalise on her flair for building atmosphere.
The personal image replicated many times over to form a composite picture is an instant pull factor in Amber Hammad’s artwork. The ploy unlocks at several levels: at first glance it emphasises ‘self’ but its multiple reproductions become representative of the multitude, what the artist terms “me, you and everyone else.” And then the compositions are staged to address issues. Works like ‘Khatam,’ ‘IFO’s’ and ‘What is so Interesting’ address social and personal concerns, but in a somewhat ambiguous manner. However, it is ‘Maryam,’ a parody of the original Christ and Madonna image that really tickles the fancy.
Ensconced in an oriental niche, a hijab and burqa-clad Maryam (Madonna) holds a baby (Christ) with pacifier in mouth, while a pack of pampers rests at her feet. The twist can be interpreted as a humorous jibe at inter-faith politics or an East-West culture clash.
Using glass as a sculptural medium and playing with the element of transparency inherent in it, Amna Ilyas brings novelty to her work. By throwing light on glass sheets patterned with coatings of silver, she projects mottled, streaked and decorative auras of light on panels or walls. This shifts art away from its concrete tactile existence to an ephemeral imaginary experience. Light projections are very much a contemporary art phenomena — today glass designers worldwide are working with advanced lighting technologies to create some very inventive artistic presentations.
Whether using new media or reinventing traditional forms, it is basically commitment to a work ethos that gives art practice the stable foundation on which new ideas are built. This clutch of artists evince a seriousness of purpose and it will be interesting to watch their progress.