An art exhibition titled ‘Separation of the Clouds’ and featuring works by Ayesha Shariff and Shanzay Subzwari takes place at the Koel Gallery until 27 January.
The catalog released by the gallery states that Aisyah’s artwork featured in this show is the second part of a series of exhibitions that reflect a world undergoing self-transformation after the Covid-19 outbreak. His first show titled ‘The White Pepper People’ took place in Gavle, Sweden in October 2020.
The catalog quotes an artist’s statement saying that black and white pepper come from the same plant but are processed differently, with white pepper being the fairer, more expensive and spicier of the two.
“’White pepper man’ is a term I make up of privileged Karachi citizens, including myself. In addition, the use of pointillism and spray paint on paper creates a ‘spicy’ effect. “
He said that record-breaking torrential rains in August 2020 changed the view of the city of Karachi overnight, as roads turned into canals and boats replaced cars. The combined effects of the pandemic and the monsoons brought the city to its knees, he added.
“So far, Karachi’s white pepper neighborhoods have talked about locked up isolation, from the comfort of their home. We are now stranded without electricity for days, with furniture floating in ankle-deep water flooding our upholstered floors and Persian carpets – a struggle all too familiar to the less fortunate.
“If you like, I can take you for a walk around floating cottage towns and sinking condos. Under the melted moonlight and textured smoke was a quarantine spot from fused light bulbs and entangled electrical wires.
“The atmosphere may be uncertain and unsettling, but a little humor can lighten the mood. My recent experiences working with children have translated into an interest in book illustration and the childlike magic that inspired this body of work. These paintings can be read as pages of a book, and their titles as chapters. “
Ayesha is a visual artist and art teacher based in Karachi. His work relies on a language of personal symbolism, combining surrealism with realism. For example, the power cord represents a run or a pair of socks for a married couple. Humor is key to this mix and is cleverly used to comment on serious conversations.
He takes everyday objects out of context and suspends them in unfamiliar places. He used oil and acrylic on a variety of surfaces, and tempera for miniature detail and translucent effects.
After graduating with honors from the Lahore National College of Arts in 2000, he held his first solo exhibition entitled ‘Conversation (to be continued)’ in 2003.This was followed by an arts residency awarded by the VASL Artists Association and a scholarship in London by British Council Charles Wallace Fellowship Trust.
He has exhibited his work both locally and internationally while continuing his teaching practice in Pakistan and Connecticut, USA. He also began writing art reviews for one of Pakistan’s most prestigious English dailies.
She has served as a judge and speaker at various institutes of the arts, and her work has been showcased by universities such as Yale and Columbia in the US, including a solo show entitled ‘Tempered Stillness’, and she has a Master’s Tea (informal Q&A) at Yale University as well.
2013 saw a dramatic change in style and image with his show titled ‘A Time. A place. A prayer. ‘Her interest in public art emerged through her vibrant mural design for’ Walls of Peace ‘by the IAMKARACHI project for the rejuvenation of public walls in Karachi. This was followed by ‘Lines in the Sand’, an Imago Mundi Project by the Benetton Foundation in Italy.
After a fulfilling teaching career at the country’s top colleges and universities, he single-handedly launched his dream project entitled ‘The Canvas Courtyard’, an on-site and online art studio for children and adults.
As for Shanzay, his work stems from the human condition. “By threading stories together in various mediums of Mughal miniature painting, paper cutting and video installations, I explore the intricate and ever-changing relationships between nations, and humans and themselves and the world around them,” the catalog quoted the artist as saying.
“Recently, as part of my MFA program, I studied the art of paper cutting and multimedia to make cinemagraph videos made of various scraps of paper.” He said that his new series and his first post-MFA art exhibition also put forward the practice of painting on archival banknote prints, but with a transformation of the color palette and image.
These scraps, as well as scraps of paper and video, were born out of his experience in a strange new dystopian world where we live in a state of constant change, uncertainty, fear and mourning, he added.
“Currency also has no value like before. Nevertheless, skimming inspiring literature during these strange times brings an element of my work to spirituality, as it reminds me that it is time for us to look inward and hold on to hope, rather than fear. “
Shanzay recently completed a Masters in Fine Arts with a distinction from the British School of Art, Architecture & Design at London Metropolitan University on a British Chevening Scholarship.
His work combines elements from Mughal miniature painting, banknotes, popular culture, and kitsch. He completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Karachi Indus Valley School of Art & Architecture in 2014 and graduated with honors in his dissertation and the Sher Asfandyar Award for Academic Excellence in Fine Arts.
He has exhibited his work internationally and in Pakistan since his university days. Internationally, his work has been exhibited in London (2020, 2019, 2016), Venice, Italy (2019, as part of Imago Mundi at The Venice Biennale), Friborg, Switzerland (2016) and Istanbul, Turkey (2011).
His work has been represented by the London GraFFik Gallery. He was invited as a participant in the fully-funded ‘Watch and Talk’ at the Belluard Bollwerk International Festival in Friborg in 2016, the SAARI artist residency in Mynamaki, Finland in 2018, and was part of the Dean’s Seminar on Arts and Values in Madrid. , Spain (2020).
His work is part of the Hundal Collection at the South Asia Institute in Chicago, USA, among other well-known collections. Since 2014 he has written art reviews, catalog articles and essays for various publications, and has a private teaching venture called ‘The Art Lounge’.