Exhibition of pictures on violence and poverty
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.