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Art and storytelling

By: Peerzada Salman

KARACHI: Anyone who can convincingly tell a tale through a framed work of art cannot be an ordinary individual, because it takes a lot, both creatively and in terms of skill, for an artist to capture a moment in life in the present and at the same time give away its past and predict its future.

Distinguished artist Moeen Faruqi is more than capable of accomplishing that goal. To determine the verity of this claim a visit to the Canvas Art Gallery, where an exhibition of Moeen Faruqi’s latest artworks began on Tuesday, would suffice.

Faruqi builds his tales through characters. His characters are readily identifiable. They look outlandish from certain angles, but they belong to, in fact are deeply entrenched in, the society that he is part of. The one thing that can be traced as ‘common’ among all his characters is their peculiar attitude to being ‘exposed’. It could be fear, shame or even concealed happiness. The very first exhibit ‘Untitled Encounter’ (oil on canvas) is testimony to that. The woman is staring into the viewer’s eyes, while the man, holding a glass, is evading eye contact. Herein begins a story of two people that the viewer knows very well.

‘The Nowhere to Sleep’ (acrylic on canvas) is a wonderful work of art. It is open to interpretation largely due to one non-human character in the frame: the fish. Again, the four characters, minus the dosed-off semi-dressed girl, are not comfortable knowing that they’re being watched. The fish is a symbol of fertility and knowledge.

Knowledge of what? That is the question.

Colours, as is often the case with artists, are an important tool in Faruqi’s narration. ‘Face No 2’ (acrylic on canvas) is special because of the redness that runs along
the protagonist’s nose and neck. ‘Endless Happiness’ (oil on canvas) comes across as a short film with a frozen shot fraught with situations — the cat, the bird, the equestrian theme of the painting in the background, the candles and the candle-holding seemingly timid man and woman.

The show enters the surrealistic domain rather evidently with ‘At Last, A Dream’ (acrylic on canvas). However, what makes it delightfully surreal is the caudal fin of the fish as if the fish itself was following it. And yes, ‘Terra Firma’ (oil on canvas) can also be categorised as such if the viewer tries to read the title in Urdu.

The exhibition will be open till March 28.

Source: Dawn