The Art Of Perception - The Spiral Of Seeing And Creating

The Art Of Perception - The Spiral Of Seeing And Creating
Numaish Gah, a contemporary art gallery is a delightful new addition to the thriving art scene in Lahore. The gallery opened its on location space on April 9 2023 in gulberg main market and is the brain child of Irfan Gul Dahri – an eminent artist, teacher and art curator in collaboration with Jawad Zia  – an art enthusiast  and collector based in Dubai.

The gallery offers three display rooms with finely curated selection of artworks from both emerging and established artists. Their recent group show opened on May 21 2023 with 20 artists from both Pakistan and Malaysia including Moly, KF Choy, Ali Gillani, Farhat Ali, Alias Yussaf, Kiran Saleem, Mohsin Shaffi, Lim Siang Jin, Syed Hussain, Rekha Menon, Husin Othman, Irfan Gull Dahri, Rabia Farooqui, Sanker Ganesh, Rabia S Akhtar, Affan Baghpati, Long Thein Shih, Steohen Menon, Zulkefli bin Talha, Muhammad Zeeshan.

Titled as Emperor’s New Clothes, the exhibition is inspired from a folktale of a narcissist emperor who wanted his apparel to be only seen by the elite as he did not like the idea of an ordinary person’s glance on his extravagant attire. During this process, the reality was that he was duped by two men who made him believe that his new dress which was made by them can be only visible to people of high status, whereas he was actually naked in reality.

In his desire to fulfill his own delusion, he was exposed physically and mentally in front of everyone. Irfan, the curator of the show believes that an artist’s journey is similar while creating an artwork; what they create, why they create and how they create is solely dependent on their own perception of the outer world hence each artist is reflecting their own splinter of actuality or perhaps what they want to see as reality.

Kiran Saleem, one of the participants from the show challenges the idea of reality through creating an illusion for the onlooker, the hyper-realistic style of her painting is so precise and accurate that from a distance one is unable to recognise its objective reality; only on close inspection it unravels itself.

Her usual subject involves hand teared paper with print of old European painting and masking tape, painted in oil on canvas creating an illusion as if they are sticking or placed on top of canvas temporally. For this show, she has taken reference from a renaissance painting titled, Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach's the elder made in 1528.

The artwork is an illustration depicting verse from Genesis 3: 6 about Eve offering the forbidden fruit to Adam but Saleem has given a clever twist to the whole narrative; instead of the eve offering the apple to Adam one see’s a mirror reflection of Eve’s own self on the other side of each diptych canvas consequently two nude women standing on each side of teared paper, offering the forbidden fruit apple with two snakes hissing to in background. The duality of this work, keeps viewer thinking of the core of human instinct whether its greed, vanity or being insubordinate; all starts from within.

Painting titled Sit and Play 1, by Husin Othman is another striking addition to the exhibition; a huge five feet canvas painting is made in linear drawing style with scene of chess board on table, surrounding scene of figures, mundane objects and abstract shapes over lapping each other to create state of chaos and illusion of passing time. His painting is a great portrayal of prevailing times, to me the chess board depicts the world politics played by men in power. Whereas everything around them is in constant state of in flux due to their power play, next pawn move and planning.

Mohsin Shaffi’s paper collages with ornate frames stood out due to their inimitable appearance and subject matter; unflinching yet sensual work titled, We are Sluts, We are Lovers, We are Beggars, We are Emperors, We are Fathers, We are Mothers, We are Sinner, We are Saint, We do not Feel Ashamed, We are your Hell, We are your Dream, We are Nothing in Between. ~after Meredith Brooks, represents various nuances of traditional South Asia in dichotomy of past and present iconography from both East and West; depicting one’s conflict with evolving time / ideas. Thoughtfully executed collage is built in layers of with images of text, architectural drawings, patterns and figures creating a depth and pop-up effect to whole composition. The artworks is jam-packed with small hints of tabooed cultural context embarking generation trauma of identity crisis.

Works by Sanker Ganesh and Rekha Memon conjures one’s subconscious mind through fauvist use of color and simplicity in form; evoking nostalgic familiarity and isolation. Finally, yet importantly, arresting but ordinary looking female portrait in cadmium orange by Muhammad Zeeshan keeps you glancing back towards it, as if someone is gazing or probing. The painting is titled, The Feather With The White Top, portraying a of women in Kasaya robe with two feather coming out from her head mimicking horns of an animal; made in monochromatic style with exquisite detailing of tonality and intricate mark making. The work quality and choice of portrait lookout reminded me of early black and white photography treated with hand painting to make it colorful. The still gaze of the portrait seemed hypnotic and haunting, the horn like bird feather, one white and other brown with a tip in white color suggesting its anthropomorphic personas or perhaps a shift of ordinary being into a transcending one.

Overall, the exhibition is impressive collection of various viewpoints of an individual’s perception forecasting a fragment of their own existence. Undoubtedly a true artwork surpasses the boundary of its visual manifestation moreover explores and engages with deeper concepts of timelessness and endurance. The exhibition closed on May 28 2023 but you can view the available artworks at Numaish Gah on visit. The gallery opens new exciting exhibitions every two weeks at their space and open for walk -in public viewing till 7pm.