Thursday, October 8, 2009

Objects on display

Roohi Ahmed and Abdullah Syed's group show, 'Figure of Speech', at Chawkandi broke away from the dull monotony of art exhibitions this summer. Full of wit and satire, both artists playfully challenged the Karachi audience's conception of art by blurring the boundary between art and non-art in a way very reminiscent of Marcel Duchamp.

It was a unique group show in the sense that their works weren't simply grouped together as is the usual practice in Karachi. For example in the four person show at Canvas 'As i see it', each artists work stood distinctly apart, unmingling with the others. However, Roohi and Abdullah's works engaged each other playfully, and depended on eachother for an interchange of dialogue.

The most fascinating were the objects on display, some of which I managed to photograph and post above.

They brought to mind the surrealist object which was conceived in 1931 to escape traditional aesthetic categories. For the surrealists, the object became a reconciliation of the conscious and unconscious, an intervention of irrational thought brought into the phenomenal world.

Roohi's paintings were of organic leafy forms, and Abdullah's played around with razor blades and beeswax. These central themes recurred in the objects also. Beeswax was moulded in the shape of leaves; the leaves purposefully made to look mechanised - some leaves actually in the shape of razorblades while others meticulously held together by needles; and the razorblades in turn were patterned together to take the flowing shape of leaves. In this way the viewer was confronted with an intermingling between the organic and inorganic, the natural and human-made. Because of this ambivalence of their nature, these objects conveyed a strong sense of tension to the viewer, as if caught half-way between their transformation from one form to the other. Their raw materials were so evident, i.e. beeswax, razorblades and leaves, and yet they seemed so fabricated, tamed and handled.

It was just extremely refreshing to see these artists move beyond painting and experiment with things more tangible.

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