The art space called 8B2 by Fatima Hamid is a welcome addition to the handful of galleries in the capital. After a short scenic drive entering Chak Shehzad Farms, the sign for 82B hangs next to a residential gate nestled along the road. Hamid has already wrapped one painting exhibition at the art space and is currently showcasing upcoming miniature art graduates from the National College of Arts, Rawalpindi. The three-person show has artists hailing from various parts of the country; Emaan Pirzada is from Hyderabad, Toqeer Hilbi belongs to Gilgit-Baltistan and Wajiha Batool was born in Quetta.
At a glance, the exhibition captures the young spirit of the Pakistani artist. The miniature techniques are ambitious and mature, the ideas and conception of the visuals can be read as personalised experiences, introspective contemplation of regional folklore and a meditative study in creating an immersive studio practice.
Having completed their thesis exhibits earlier this year, the labour of love in their body of works relays a dedication for resolve that pushes the boundaries of miniature painting as a modern practice. The traditional rendering of brushstrokes compliments the more immediate illustrative elements in Hilbi’s works. The protagonists are in pairs of male figures or yaks – there is an auspicious saintly figure at the centre of this shepherd’s tale and as we walk along with the 12 pieces in “Yaks in Myths and Mythos” series we begin to form our own story. The scenes from his work feel familiar with the terrain that belongs to a mountainous area. There is a spiritual presence in each frame with a colourful string of flags marking a pilgrimage site called “Ziyarat” in Arabic. Hilbi is using this ancient symbolism and these motifs to visualise the folklore that is verbally passed on by village elders and master storytellers. The tapestry celebrates mysticism and the Sufi history of his region.
Pirzada’s miniature practice focuses on creating psychological spaces in her work. The imagery feels observant and isolated as she absorbs her environment and translates it into a desolate realm using drawing, painting, collage and mixed media. Her spatial experiments unapologetically challenge the natural laws of psychics and perspective choosing to reassemble and alter the interior home space. The viewer is transported inside the tiny compartments of familiarity that evoke childhood memories, loneliness and heavy moments of melancholia. The past as a tool to disrupt the present, Pirzada’s postcard paintings open up another dimension of narratives and interpretation into her imagery. We begin to see the translucent and ghostly presence of painterly hues that signal the viewer to closely examine what is behind the quiet and static facade searching for hidden clues that the artist has purposely left to discover inside each piece.
There is a quest for naturalistic representation in Batool’s whimsical flora and fauna objects. There is a human quality to her flowers with patterns of organismic matter, organic colour gradations and peering into 3D interior crevices composed within her pieces. These elements of abstraction create optical illusions of depth. She uses a laser-cut technique to uniformly generate thousands of circle shapes 3mm & 4mm of Wasli paper that are then layered onto paper to create structured objects protruding out of the picture plane. The DNA of her pieces feels methodical and laborious yet the result is an ephemeral illusion of nature that is romantic and inviting to the viewer. Inspired by the miniature painting technique called “Pardakht” where the dot of paint is repeated to create a form. The tactile quality of her laser-cut dots feels immediate and intimate as the artist chooses to explore the experience of being a female within her images.
Each artist on display is reclaiming miniature paintings as their own by using modern techniques and personal subject matter. This exhibition marks the beginning of these young artists and provides them with the platform to exhibit their work. The exhibition continues until the 17th of October 2021.