Ex­hi­bi­tion of pic­tures on violence and poverty

Pakistan Observer - - KARACHI CITY -

Emil Wyss, Con­sul Gen­eral of Switzer­land paid a farewell call on Gover­nor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan at Gover­nor House.—PO photo by Rizwan

EMERG­ING from violence and pov erty is the back-drop that dom­i­nates the ex­hi­bi­tion of pic­tures by Mo­ham­mad Mujeeb Lakho and Fa­rooque Ali Chan­dio at the Chawkandi Art Gallery. Their pic­tures, con­sist­ing of still lives of uten­sils (Chan­dio), wo­ven mats (Lakho) and por­traits of com­mon old men (Lakho) are in­flu­enced by their small town or ru­ral back­grounds. Mujeeb Lakho is from Khair­pur whilst Fa­rooque Ali Chan­dio is from the vil­lage of Sita Road in Dadu.

Mujeeb Lakho was ed­u­cated from Sindh Univer­sity as was Fa­rooque Ali Chan­dio. Mujeeb Lakho drew por­traits of old Sindhi gentle­men from amongst his fam­ily and friends’ older rel­a­tives. These wa­ter­colour por­traits con­veyed the men‘s sense of tired­ness and the toll that life has taken on them.

The crowd was rea­son­ably sized enough for the open­ing day in a space as tiny as the Chawkandi Art Gallery. The peo­ple who were there were Mostly men, who seemed to have pre­vi­ously known Chan-dio or Lakho.

A cu­ra­tor from Christie’s, Amyn Jaf­far has shown some in­ter­est in these pic­tures. When Mr Chan­dio was asked about why he drew so many em­broi­dered wo­ven roti­dan’s (small bas­kets that can be used to hold bread) he bought up Suboth Gupta, an In­dian artist who dur­ing World War II drew empty kitchen uten­sils to rep­re­sent the hunger and suf­fer­ing of the peo­ple.

He used brushes for tea wash in a sym­met­ri­cal de-sign in the cen­tre of the bas­ket. The sym­met­ri­cal spokes from his roti­dan, ra­di­at­ing from its cen­tre to the cir­cum­fer­ence are painted in tea wash to rep­re­sent the equal­ity of hu­man­ity, which Chan­dio said is ap­par­ent to him in Is­lam whilst adding that pol­i­tics and worldly dif­fer­ences di­vide us.

The shadow of a tea wash rep­re­sented the shad­ows of dark episodes in peo­ple’s and com­mu­ni­ties lives that con­tinue to haunt them The pic­ture of the roti bas­ket with the tea wash shad­ows in it also has a red out­line. Chan­dio added that red line to rep­re­sent the in­no­cent labour­ers in tents who were killed in Tur­bat whilst Chan­dio was teach­ing Fine Arts at a Gwadar school.

He was work­ing on his pic­ture of the roti bas­ket viewed from above with graphite pen­cils when news came in of the 20 in­no­cent labour­ers killed in a tent on 11 April 2015 near Tur­bat. He framed the edge of the roti­dan in red to rep­re­sent their deaths. He wants the violence to just stop.

To in­di­cate that Balochis­tan has also pro­gressed he stated that his school had now be­come co-ed­u­ca­tional to in­di­cate it was for equal­ity The frames of some of his bread bas­kets have di­vi­sions cov­er­ing the plat­ter. These ab­strac­tions on these re­al­is­tic di­vided bread bas­kets in­di­cate his feel­ings on the some­what fu­til­ity of ef­forts to ame­lio­rate suf­fer­ing. Chan­dio do­nated to an earth­quake re­lief fund and re­alised how the divi­sion of his do­na­tion amongst the num­ber of peo­ple who needed help would weaken the ef­fect. To de­note how when some­thing is di­vided into a lot of pieces it loses its po­tency, he put di­vid­ing bars across the frame of the pic­ture. An­other pic­ture of a bread bas­ket with a black back­ground to rep­re­sent the re­stric­tive life he led in Gwadar dur­ing his post­ing there. The bread bas­ket is the cir­cle of his life and the fact that he could not leave the high school he worked at to ex­plore the rest of the area around Gwadar turned the area around him into dark­ness.

A sad­den­ing phe­nom­e­non is how con­sis­tently Kara-chi’s artists keep cit­ing the violence in their en­vi­ron­ment. Mr Fa­rooque Ali Chan­dio does so. Whilst ques­tion­ing Mo­ham­mad Mujeeb Lakho the back­drop for his art is not violence, but poverty.

Lakho‘s fam­ily in Khair­pur grew grapes but this was not enough to sup­port them. His grand­moth­ers and the women in his fam­ily would make chatais (straw wo­ven mats) out of grape leaves. Lakho noted how for­eign­ers used chatais (mats) as hats but amus­edly ob­served that do­mes­ti­cally they are used for sit­ting on or even wrap­ping up corpses.

He drew 17 pic­tures of straw mats and when ques­tioned on why he drew so many pic­tures of straw mats he said they rep­re­sented his fore­bears like his grand­mother. He rep­re­sented them through the straw mats as it was the women in his fam­ily who would weave and sell them to sup­ple­ment the fam­ily‘s in­come.

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