Art certainly has no boundaries. It can connect people from diverse mediums, materials and even nationalities. Exhibit 320 in Delhi celebrates this artistic bond through a group show curated by Ranjit Menezes titled Delineating Memories which includes artists from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. These artists – Simrin Mehra Agarwal, Sharmishtha Kar, Martand Khosla and M Pravat from India, Gazi Nafis Ahmed from Bangladesh, Noorani Chagani and Simeen Farhat from Pakistan – are all placed within complex frameworks of time, place, society, history, art and culture but enter into a continuous dialogue to demystify the systems they inhabit. They travel through time, switch roles and perspectives and delineate their discoveries like a map from memory.
Born in 1979 in Kolkata, Simrin currently lives and works in Kolkata and in Milan. Her work examines the visual history and transitional phase of royalty from grandeur to its decline post Independence. Writes Menezes: “It provides visual cues to the changing process of time and history where forms of objects, architecture, demography, customs and values are all subject to transformation. Once home to a lavish courtly way of life, they are now abandoned to the relentless wear and tear of time. Antiques are shown in the process of transformation from an inanimate object to a living organic form pulsating with life and developing into a complex hybrid being. They become the personification of a story- teller yearning to unveil the forgotten stories of the ups and downs of royal lives”.
Bangladeshi artist Gazi Nafis Ahmed is an artist working with photography. He sees the world as a place with many social challenges and uses photography to reflect his universe. His work in the show is from the Puran Dhaka series or Old Dhaka. He says, “My ancestral connection with Puran Dhaka goes back 300 years. Wandering around this energetic part of the city, I encountered the rawness and intensity of the life. They are my reflections. The photographs are propelled by all the pleasure circuits deeply fulfilled by looking.”
Pakistani artist Noor Ali has exhibited both nationally and internationally. His sculptural works are made from miniature terracotta bricks. He translates his training in the principles of Mughal miniature painting into sculpture using miniature handmade bricks to imitate large building blocks. Both works refer to the fundamental desires of man to provide a house for shelter. The artist says, “My work revolves around the concept of absence of home. In most of my work, I found myself in search of small piece of land, which I can call mine.”
Simeen Farhat was born in 1968 in Karachi, Pakistan and her installations take their origins from the calligraphic legacy of South Asia and the Middle East. In her recent work, the artist uses Arabic script cast in installations, text sculptures and wood sculptures, which retain the delicate fragility of traditional calligraphy, combined with veiled female figures cast with fabric, devoid of features, opening up issues of Pakistani identity, the notion of tradition and modernism and gender representation. Her work includes media such as drawings in ink, gouache, acrylic on paper, and acrylic on canvas.
(Poonam Goel is a freelance journalist who contributes articles on visual arts for unboxedwriters.com)