Walking into the exhibition titled ‘Passionate Hues’ at Islamabad’s Gallery 6, at the first instance colour, tones and hues come to mind. At a second glance one focuses on the pieces hanging on the gallery walls and a thought comes to mind, learn not to just paint what is in front of the viewer, but how it feels, what it means, its weight, the air around it, and the space it occupies, one will begin to channel one’s memories into powerful symbols. A focus exists in the deeper and more sublime content of the work displayed.
At the exhibition three women painters, Nargis Khalid, Nusrat Ji and Shahien Shahzada have exhibited subjects which are different where Nargis has a focus on still life, Nusrat Ji has concentrated on landscapes and Shahien Shahzada on portraiture and figurative expressions. The bridge that brings all three artists together is the use of extraordinary colours painted with impassioned fervour and enthusiasm. Each surface belonging to one painter is different from the surfaces of another painter and this variation in style and technique affects the viewer emotionally. Reds, yellows, greens and oranges are dominant on most of the canvases creating captivating compositions.
Nusrat Ji received her BFA degree from the Punjab University in 1970 after which she completed a diploma from the Pakistan Art Institute in Karachi in 1989. In 2003 she acquired a certificate in History of Contemporary Art from the McGill University in Canada. Shahien Shahzada graduated from the Central Institute of Arts and Crafts in Karachi in 1970 and has participated in group shows in the United States of America between 1971 and 1979. This is her first exhibition in Pakistan. Nargis Khalid who is currently a Professor at the Department of Architecture and Design, Comsats also graduated from the Central Institute of Arts and Crafts, Karachi in 1973. She completed her Masters in Art Education in 1986 from the Rhode Island School of Design, USA and has participated in 36 group shows and has held 10 solo shows nationally and internationally. Being in possession of the work of such distinguished women is indeed a visual treat for art connoisseurs, viewers and admirers.
In Nusrat Ji’s work the landscapes are beautifully depicted where the sensation of the forces of nature, a collection of events in space and time are painted and this revelation is made prominent through the use of light. A feeling of a passage way is created where the viewer can experience in actuality being present within the painting or commemorate a memory of a similar area or place.
Shahien Shahzada’s intention of depicting the visual appearance of the subject in acrylic paint shows the inner sense of the subject instead of a literal likeness. The artist generally attempts a representative portrayal, as British painter Sir Edward Burne Jones stated, “The only expression allowable in great portraiture is the expression of character and moral quality, not anything temporary, fleeting, or accidental.”
Still life painting is one of the principal genres of Western art and the subject matter of a still life painting is anything that is inanimate or lifeless. Man-made objects, fruit, vegetables and flowers are amongst the subjects used in arranging a still life. In modern art several artists such as Paul Cezanne have used it as a foundation for experimentation. A similar technique has been adopted by Nargis Khalid whose images are transparencies within themselves. Her unconventional use of acrylics in pure colour compliments her innovative arrangements and imagery.
Discovering modern methods to dramatise the conventional genres in art is a feat in itself and the exhibition is noteworthy in skill and manipulation.