Apr 102013

KARACHI: Symbolism has become an integral part of artwork. Some artists’ work is designed only to give visual pleasure to the audience while others choose to leave room for symbolic interpretation.

The works of two artists, Sheherbano Hussain and Ayesha Shariff, speak volumes to the careful observer, and yet, are subtle in a distinct way. The paintings are on display at the Chawkandi Art Gallery till April 16.

Shariff, a seasoned artist, currently lives and works in Karachi. Having received her bachelors degree in fine arts from the National College of Arts in Lahore in 2000, she interned at various art studios and her works have been exhibited in the US and UK. Previously, her work was mainly inspired by developments in the political scenario in the country. Recently, however, she has drawn inspiration from her travels where the Sufi culture appealed to her. To give her paintings the maximum visual effects, Shariff has used egg tempura as medium. This, she claims, gives her work a jewel-like effect.

Her most recent work, currently being exhibited in the gallery, uses her religious stance as a prerogative, forming the forefront or backdrop for most of her paintings. Like her previous works, Shariff has used the Lily flower as a symbol to represent her heart. “A heart that is pure and prays to its Creator in fear, hope and longing,” she explained. “I have embodied the lines of communication between myself and my deity by using wires as a symbol.”

Among Shariff’s most striking pieces was a small canvas which showed the national flag, suspended by a wire underwater. The picture, titled A Stirring Underwater, seemingly brings back Ayesha’s political affinity into her work.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, she explained that it describes the way she feels about the current political climate. Through it, she has captured the hopes of millions of Pakistanis praying for a miraculous revolution to happen in the country.

Hussain, another veteran artist, graduated with a degree in fine arts from the Indus Valley School in Karachi in 1995. The artist who was also nominated for the 2011 Asian Sovereign Art prize used different mediums to express her thoughts on canvases.

Her current work is a continuation of her last collection, where she draws inspiration from her childhood years. “I have tried to recollect and relive the magic and wonder one feels in the formative years, before life makes us cynical,” she told The Express Tribune. Some of her paintings portray scenes of an army base camp, which is where she grew up as a child, she explains.

“My pictures are what they are. It is not important for a painting to have hidden meanings. This is what I grew up seeing in the years of my innocence,” she said. “Most people perceive the mind and heart as a dichotomy but I feel that the two organs are most definitely connected and undergo the same thought process.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2013.

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