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Bonding over Art

Skeptics might argue that timing is hardly appropriate for cultural camaraderie...

Written by Vandana Kalra |
April 14, 2009 12:44:21 am

Alumni from the National College of Arts,Lahore,catch up in Delhi over an exhibition

Skeptics might argue that timing is hardly appropriate for cultural camaraderie,but border tensions did not deter Pakistan-origin artist Faiza Butt from taking a flight from London to Delhi to spend hours at Vadehra Art Gallery with Ruby Chishti from San Francisco,and Delhi-based Masooma Syed. While the trio put their artwork on display,the venue acted as location for reunion for the three National College of Arts,Lahore,alumni. “We were able to spend a lot of time catching up and it was a rare occasion when our work came together,” says Syed,as she recalls the experience of preparing for the exhibition.

Belonging to the Pakistani diaspora,the artists’ work represents the issues of concern in the subcontinent. If Butt has young boys targeting each other with guns in her untitled pointillist work on paper,placed close to it is Chishti’s installation titled Weapon of Mass Destruction that seems to represent millions of children who are witness to war from birth. The newborn baby with its umbilical cord still attached epitomises innocence,but its title comes across as ironical and reflective of its war-torn surrounding.

The traditional beliefs are also questioned. If Chishti’s crows scattered across the gallery floor ponder over the belief that the birds indicate the arrival of a guest,in Free Hug the dolls hugging each other question the longevity of the gesture as an act that provides temporary solace.

The constant clash also worries Syed. She depicts it at a micro level in form of conflict between individuals. “We interpret things in a different manner all the time. This is subject to the situation and the surrounding,” she says,as she looks at her work titled Black Cat,that has a skeletal structure of the animal woven with hair. “There are many superstitions associated with the black cat. Some consider it evil but others ignore it. It is all subject to interpretation,” she states,as she goes on to add that the medium of hair is reflective of the fragile nature of relationships. While she observes that her work does not denote the volatile state of relations between India and Pakistan,she hopes that the exhibition will help improve the situation. “It should be followed by more such initiatives,” she smiles. A nod of approval comes from curator Vidya Shivadas,who adds,“It is important to have a cultural dialogue. These are women who deal with contemporary concerns and their art is not mere crafted object.”

The exhibition at Vadehra Art Gallery,Okhla,will go on till April 20. Contact: 65474005

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