A solo exhibition of artist Shahida Ahmed titled as Full Circle was recently unveiled at Ejaz Art Gallery in Lahore.
From the multiple spins made by a whirling dervish to the way in which life can suddenly return us to an earlier moment of significance, circles in one form or another have long fascinated the British-Pakistani artist Shahida Ahmed, presenting themselves at pivotal points in her life and, inevitably, finding their way into her work.
This realisation of the circle’s significance, in terms of motif and back story, together with her arrival at something of a personal milestone, convinced Shahida that it should be the central theme of her show.
The show explores the whirling dervish’s Sufi dance in all its forms, from groups of performers preparing to dance and acknowledging their audience to others synchronised, arms spread and heads tilted, in full flight. The title of each work on show draws on the writings of Rumi, the 13th-century Persian poet and Islamic scholar who has long been a source of inspiration for the artist.
While the exhibition sees Shahida revisiting a familiar subject, the whirling dervishes in this new collection are decidedly different, with greater use of colour giving the pieces more vibrancy and a new level of dynamism.
The earlier pieces were mostly white, since the aim was to capture the purifying process that is a key part of the sufi dance. This time around, she began experimenting with other techniques and the style seemed to change. There is also a different mood to the collection, which she thinks is due to the fact that it reflects her artistic journey over the decade.
The arrival point is a multi-faceted one, with Shahida’s recognition of the landmarks she has reached both personally and professionally helping to make the show something of a celebration.