The Canvas Gallery in Karachi hosts an art exhibition showcasing Suleman Faisal’s works until April 16. ‘Orange Sisyphus’ is the solo performance of the Vasl-Khurram Kasim Art Foundation (KKAF) Research Grants.
“There are certain types of instinctive affiliation with regard to tools and how we use them; each tool has a specific function that changes the way it is used, ”the exhibition catalog released by the gallery quoted the artist as saying.
“As an artist and former laborer, I have experience ranging from working on assembly lines making mass-produced products to assisting in visual merchandising for popular conglomerates. My experience has shifted from being an individual worker working on a commission to an artist reaching out within myself to the depths of creative expression.
“This shift is a catalyst in the evolution of my worldview, one that changes drastically as I reflect on different perspectives on what tools mean and how these meanings change from person to person, and what they say about the individual himself.
“As artists, most of us are kind of workers, but our experience tends to be one of love work and not marriage for convenience. “When we look at the experience of a child working in a factory or mine, it is very different from the kind of work that is born of passion and dedication.
“It’s an idea I have tried to tease through my practice, recently and in my learning experiences over the last few years. “When I have exposed different aspects of this experience, I have realized that there is an inherent fallacy in the way these tools are understood by different classes of society.
“Someone in my position has the luxury and ability to use it at my discretion, and maybe even celebrate this drama. The object created for this storefront is one piece, a tribute to the tools that have made me what I am. “In this case, these items also really tell the experience of workers who make a living through them. One of them is compulsion and the other is a form of catharsis. The inherently transparent material has been cheerfully printed into different objects all created to commemorate these different perspectives.
“The orange hue radiates a sense of warmth and happiness in the mind of the viewer, which, in addition to ribbons and wrapping paper, helps form a strong association with the act of gift-giving, behind which is a much more sinister context that introduces a darker side of labor practices.
“I can’t help but highlight how these tools mean so different to someone trained to use them in reward and remuneration, and I am amazed by their aesthetic potential.
“Whether you see the playful nature of these objects that arouses the viewer ‘s imagination in some, or the fallacy in how they are constructed and presented as a means of mobility and hard work, there is much to say about how their connotations shift.
“The display of these objects as interactive and fun aims to dissect the level of representation that each of these objects gives us all. Like Sisyphus who works hard over and over again, through my work I invite viewers on a journey towards a capitalist attitude of constant productivity. “
Faisal is an artist based in Lahore whose work includes sculpture, video and performance. Her multidisciplinary artwork explores the latent aggression that occurs within people and objects, and the petty violence perpetrated through socially acceptable activities such as cooking, hosting, or manufacturing.
His interest in power and equipment balance is influenced by his personal history of working in the toy and plastics manufacturing industry, as well as exploring the various socioeconomic conditions in the city where he lives.
He graduated in 2017 with outstanding honors in fine arts from Lahore’s National College of Arts (NCA), Pakistan’s leading arts university, where he currently teaches. She has taken part in the artist residency at the Vasl Artists’ Association in Karachi (2020) and the Pioneer Cement Residency curated by the Canvas Gallery (2017).
He has also exhibited his work in group exhibitions, including ‘For the Wicked and the Valiant’ at Lahore’s O Art Space (2021), ‘A Site for the Sight’ at the Lahore Biennale (2020), ‘Microcosm II’ at Karachi’s Aan Gandhara Art Space (2018), ‘Transition in Time’ at NCA’s Zahoor ul Akhlaq Gallery (2018), ‘Four Rooms’ at the Lahore Biennale at the Punjab Institute of Language, Art & Culture (2018), and ‘Beneath the Surface’ on the Canvas Gallery (2017) ).
He has been tasked with producing public works and monumental projects for Coca-Cola, Fazaia Housing Scheme and Wapda Town in Sargodha, Bahria Town Karachi, Lahore Shadman Junction and Alkaram Studio. In 2020 he received the Vasl-KKAF Research Grants Fund, the peak of which was exhibited in the Canvas Gallery.
Faisal is the third recipient of the 2020-2021 Vasl-KKAF Research Grant, selected from his 12th residency at Taaza Tareen Vasl ‘Echoes of the Walls’. The panel of judges for the selection of grantees consisted of Naiza Khan, Rabeya Jalil, Risham Syed and Sameera Raja.
Taaza Tareen is the flagship artist residency program of the Vasl Artists Association. Four new artists and an art writer were selected from more than 80 applicants from all over Pakistan. Founded in 2005, Taaza Tareen is designed as a stepping stone for recent graduates from Pakistan’s arts institute to build their careers.
Over the years Taaza Tareen has supported more than 75 artists at the formative stages of their professional life. Every year one outstanding resident of Taaza Tareen is awarded a Vasl-KKAF Research Grant, which is selected by a panel of experienced arts professionals.
The Vasl-KKAF Research Grants are awarded to new artists who are not only diligent in their respective work but also committed to their practice by showing a strong dedication and interest in building close relationships within the arts community.
Recipients receive the opportunity to build relationships with a wide variety of creative practitioners and the Vasl network, in addition to solo exhibitions at the prestigious Canvas Gallery.
KKAF was founded to provide a platform that supports all modes of artistic expression from and within Pakistan. From 2018 to 2024, KKAF commits to sponsor a year-long research grant for eligible Taaza Tareen artists. Since 2018 the Canvas Gallery has hosted the culmination exhibition of the Vasl-KKAF Research Grant.