A solo exhibition recently unveiled at Chawkandi Art Gallery in Karachi featuring the work of Sobia Ahmed.
For Ahmed, the initial visual impact a piece of art has on the viewer is much more important than any subsequent notion he/she later conceives about the piece. Her work examines the gradual decline of Ideology in Pakistan. This decline has often been attributed to the influence and interference of the West within Pakistan’s sociopolitical structure. She delves on inability to free ourselves from outside interference and manage to create our own firm, personal ideology. She feels that we have failed to create a common ideology for everyone to stand united under, and this has led to divisions based on sect, religion and ethnicity, among others.
The problems this failure has caused, are the main focus of her work. Some not so subtle images, like arrows, focus on the suffering and helplessness that have become the philosophy of a wandering nation. Her depiction of thick foliage in an array of greens, sometimes appear soothing, but at other times it appears as uncomfortable creepers that may be aesthetically pleasing, but symbolize overwhelming darkness, suffocation and discomfort. One can notice how the dark foliage slowly creeps across the national flag, and becomes a meaningful metaphor for how our national identity is slowly crumbling away into irrelevant nothingness. Dashes of dark red thread and various materials have been juxtaposed against backgrounds of Gold and silver leaves that all-together combine to form imagery that depicts a rather grim and saddening reflection on Pakistan and its current state of affairs.
Ahmed has tried to appropriate national symbols so that they can be examined them under a new light and question the current notions being imposed on society. Through her exhibition, the artist creates a dialogue, between the good and the evil, with parallel diptychs that complement yet contradict each other. Hence, the Show title, “Shikwa, Jawab-e-Shikwa” which is inspired by the work of our National Poet himself, Allama Iqbal.
Holder of a bachelor’s degree in Miniature painting, along with a Masters in Visual Arts, from the National college of Arts (Lahore), Sobia Ahmed is a Lahore-based artist whose work is primarily based on the various socio-political predicament situations that define the boundaries of human interaction both on a national, as well as an international level. Her work aims to raise questions within the viewer’s minds regarding the situations that define political boundaries around the world.
She has held exhibitions on both a national and international level, including Pakistan, India, Dubai, Switzerland, Canada, Oman, London and Japan.
Sobia is currently working as a visiting Assistant Professor at the National college of Arts, Lahore since 2013.