“The Moon is weary of climbing heaven and gazing on the likes of us”
“Laila Rahman’s work has consistently employed myth and legend drawn from literature.
Deeply concerned about the dystopic world we find ourselves in, the artist sifts and assembles images whose juxtapositions mirror her discomfort. She traces the possible allegorical alliance between our predicament and the fables we know…”
Laila Rahman’s work is impressive in her unique manipulation of media and line, as she refers to mythology, fact and a continuation of the self obsession that has confined history. Exploring the work is fascinating as one comes to terms with the stresses and uncertainties of the world today. One discovers diverse historic references and remembers the story of the warring Princes mentioned in an ancient book of stories and how the hero saved the lives of his brothers by answering correctly the question put to him by the angry River God. When asked “Which is mankind’s greatest error”? The hero replied: “His greatest error is in thinking he will live forever.” Technically the work impresses with the artist’s superb use of media and the areas of realism and suggestive images.
The acclaimed artist began her study of art at the National College of Art, Lahore, where in 1989 she graduated in painting and sculpture. She went on to join St. Martin’s School of Fine Art, London, graduating in 1991 with an Advanced Diploma in painting.
After marriage and the birth of twins she spent a year in London with her family and joined the Slade School of Art, where she earned a Master’s Degree in printmaking. Her husband’s Fulbright Scholarship took them off to Boston, where Laila did a year’s residency at the SMFA, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, culminating in an exhibition of her new paintings and prints at the Bag Gallery, Boston, USA before returning to Lahore to work in her studio and teach.
In a quadriptych titled ‘Ship of Fools,’ the pomegranate has become a boat that carries off the creatures that represent the virtues lost to society
Laila’s artworks are included in numerous international collections. In her latest body of work the artist uses the beautiful `Pomegranate’ as the symbol of corruption. The artist creates a universal message: it is a fruit which is recognised and admired throughout the world and its tempting red seeds are enjoyed, but here they spill evil on society. In Laila Rahman’s work, one traces the world from the beginning as we know it; initially beautiful and at peace with nature before the changes brought about by the presence of man. With seven intricately worked and thought provoking artworks displayed the artist has titled her work and included a narrative line.
‘The Archipelago of Happiness’ is the title of a diptych worked with oil on canvas; a world of peace and harmony, of fish and flowers worked with beautiful textures and colouration before the emergence of man.
In a quadriptych worked with oil and pencil on canvas, titled ‘Ship of Fools,’ the pomegranate has become a boat that carries off the creatures that represent the virtues lost to society. A Unicorn is a symbol of innocence; the Lion of courage; the Antelope of adaptability; the Wolf of guardianship and motherhood; and the Butterfly of the ability to change and metamorphose.
‘Diminished’ is a diptych worked with oil on canvas. The artist describes the lone figure as “betrayal, loss and helplessness. Wings of fire and pomegranate seeds mark the beginning of mankind’s time on earth.”
‘Discord’ is a quadriptych worked with oil and pencil on canvas. “Power as symbolised through the dissected pomegranate reveals itself to be both seductive and repellent.”
‘The Land of Lost Content’ is a diptych worked with oil on canvas. Here the artist creates “A dystopian world where the pomegranates are overripe, too red, almost deceased in our world.”
‘Forsaken’ is thus explained: “A scene of fracture and discontent where the encroaching tentacles of the pomegranate are steadily overtaking the world peopled by animals, fish, plants and insects.”
‘Endless Night’ is the title of a quadriptych painted with oil on canvas, and it offers a sense of optimism. Here a nautilus shell is used by the artist as a metaphor for the eternal cycle of evolution, growth and promise. The sentinel ring of bodies remains in eternal guardianship.