VARIATIONS ON A THEME: FOUR ARTISTS FROM SINDH

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KARACHI:In Pakistan, freely fusing contemporary methods with tradition, artists continue to extend the possibilities explored by previous generations and add further dimensions. Times change along with fashion, but as history tells us, art in its numerous forms withstands catastrophe, oppression and dictators.

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The experimental curiosity of young artists is dependant on the technical proficiency of their knowledge; they must have vision and imagination, and be intellectually alive to the latest development in the world of art without losing sight of their own rich aesthetic traditions since the times of the Indus valley civilization. Artists today have reason to be optimist about the future, opportunities are there and artists in Pakistan have not only talent and the capacity to work with focus on their chosen discipline, but also great initiative. Often their creative gifts are the inheritance of their roots from areas such as Sindh, an ancient land of great cultural interest. Many of the artists from Sindh have gone on to receive international recognition for their work, and one must admire those artists such as Nagori, Mussarat Mirza, Ali Abbas and others who devoted their careers to education for the benefit of generations of young artists from their region.

These thoughts came to mind on viewing the exhibition of artworks of four artists currently teaching at Sindh University, and the Centre of Excellence in Art and Design MUET.  Showing their work in Karachi at the Unicorn Gallery, Jam Depar, Hussain Chandio, Manzur Ali Solangi and Mangi Nusrat Raza express their observations of the world around them in the tradition of their distinguished teachers and artists before them. These are artists who paint, draw and sculpt the world around them, documenting Sindh for future generations.

Left-to-right: Jam Depar Landscape‘, Manzoor Ali Solangi Miniature‘, Nusrat Raza Mangi Honoursculpture‘, Hussain Chandio Walking shadows‘.

Jam Depar who graduated from the National College of Arts majoring in Sculpture, is inspired by his surrounding in Jamshoro to express his feelings in the genre of Landscape. In his work he describes the `hills with rare trees and dry grass ‘ that excite his imagination. He cannot resist the lure of an `isolated tree’ in the dessert terrain. Since 1997, the artist has shown his work in group shows in Karachi, Sindh and Islamabad. One remembers an exhibition at the Indus Gallery in 1998, when S.Ali Imam found much to interest him in the young artist’s work. 

Following in the footsteps of Mussarat Mirza, Hussain Chandio often paints the people around him seen from rooftops. He seeks unusual angles and in his work the feeling of movement predominates as passersby walk with clothes creating diverse patterns and textures blown by breezes. Often a flower or pleasing object may catch his eye and fill his canvas. Viewing his work one shares the enjoyment of the artist with his subject.

Assistant Professor Mangi Nusrat Raza is Head of the Department of Fine Arts, Centre of Excellence in Art and Design MUET, Jamshoro. He is by preference a sculptor, creating finely detailed work that portrays the indigenous culture of his region. Forms, figures and designs vary using the media of terra cotta, fibre glass, metal and wood. His work has been seen in several exhibitions throughout Pakistan.

Manzoor Ali Solangi is a miniaturist of great distinction. In his current work taking as his subject children’s education, he expresses his concerns for the lack of educational opportunities for the children of the poor who at an early age are found in the workplace. Working with graphite on miniature `takhti’ shapes ( boards traditionally used  in schools), he describes the children in various jobs, gaunt and old before their time, in a way that is infinitely moving. His art is immaculate as he textures the background of the work with layers of graphite hatching.

Showing their work together, the four artists/educationists make an impact on the viewer that is a genuine pleasure – Marjorie Husain