A four-person show recently unveiled at Canvas Gallery in Karachi showcasing the works of contemporary artists Ahmed Ali Manganhar, Amna Rahman, Anusha Ramchand Novlani and Yaseen Khan.
The narrative of their expression was linked to their inner selves in relation to the external world, creating visual vocabularies that transcend the boundaries of language and manifesting in unique socio-cultural perspectives.
The work of Ahmed Ali Manganhar is a mapping of his personal journey through various insitutions. Manganhar’s slates on which he pours his ideas are reminders of school, another insitution. Slates provide him negative and positive space to weave stories and confine them within the boundaries of a slate. His drawings are stories about the power of the storytellers to speak about their home, spirit and art however here it is depicted as history of emotions. Manganhar’s satirical tropes centre on the dichotomies arising from inhabiting different worlds in a simultaneous paradox, citing his childhood as inspiration for a range of stories told through imagery drawn from popular and folk culture.
The work of Amna Rahman has been divided into two parts. The first part talks about the world inside in which she showcases portraits of her close friends. Through her work she reflects on her inner feelings about her subjects as she alienates herself to create a true image. While painting their portrait, she prefers to ignore their familiar attributes and focus more on their uninviting gaze. The other work of Rahman is that of outside world. These series of paintings are a contrast between well groomed ladies and their dogs in their natural form. Her choice of dogs as a subject relates to her attempt to promote emotional indifference and estrangement. Rahman’s oeuvre centres on a rich emotional tapestry woven from portraits of the female form along with the unpretentiousness of canines.
For Anusha Ramchand, black and white, good and evil, rich and poor co-exist with no similarity as such. Her stance is about multiple personalities that often blur the lines of what is authentic and what is not. The narrative of her work throws a light on discrimation on the basis of gender and religion as she portrays a remedy of universal language of art. Through her work, Ramchand highlights that people who seem visibly different can relate and communicate with one another through the language of art. Ramchand highlights the universal language of social media symbology as a medium to bridge divisions and differences.
Yaseen Khan’s work is a reflection of a personal experience that relates to the communication gap between different cultural segments of our society. Hailing from Sindhi and Pakhtun backgroud, the artist has observed cultural differences that he portrays through chamakpatti. With an experience of decorating trucks using this medium, Khan adors this work and have reinvented it to contextualise the technique. He creates abstract visuals that hint on noise and error. Just as it is difficult to comprehend another language, Khan’s work is a challenge for the viewers to understand the narrative. Khan focuses on the confusion created by the communication gap in our cultural melting-pot, yet does so with a visual vocabulary firmly rooted in vernacular tradition.