New exhibition tackles women’s issues
LAHORE: An exhibition of paintings and graphic art on issues faced by women opened on Wednesday at the Narrang Art Gallery. The work of the artist, Khuda Bux Abro, deals with the issues women face across Pakistan, especially in Sindh, as well as oppression and karo-kari (honour killings). This exhibition at the Narrang Gallery, which is owned by noted architect Nayyer Ali Dada, features 21 paintings in either oil or acrylic on canvas, and 15 graphic pieces.
Mr Abro is based in Karachi and has a degree in design from the National College of Arts (NCA) and a diploma in Associate Engineering, also from NCA. He has worked as an illustrator and art director with various newspapers and magazines. This is his 21st exhibition.
Some commentators at the exhibition found great value and ambition in Mr Abro’s approach. Ayesha Ahmed, a professor at the Oriental College of Arts, told Daily Times, “It’s an amazing attempt to show that not only are women feminists, but men too have the sensitivity to be one. His works revolve around the exploitation of women and shows his sensitivity as a man, which is rare in our society”.
She pointed out that Abro is married to a famous feminist activist, Attiya Dawood and “his inspirations are partially due to his wife,” adding, “His compositions are very well planned and graphically very mature. His use of colours is sensitive and extremely symbolic. It is a very well composed symbolism.”
Art lover Prof Dr Khalid Mahmood explained the artist’s approach: “Basically the artist is an expressionist. His works are based on his conception and experience. His expression is mainly around female problems and in some paintings on mother and child issues. He has tried to paint the social evils in society.”
“His expression is strong. In some pieces he has managed to depict brutality with the flow of his brush. With his powerful strokes, Mr Abro has conveyed his message”, Dr Mahmood said.
Dr Mahmood did express some reservations about Mr Abro’s work, however. He said, “In his works, aesthetics are subdued by theme. In some paintings, he is not clear about his concepts.” Dr Mahmood particularly enjoyed ‘If she only had a door’ which shows a female figure pushed against a wall; ‘Three Generations’, painted in black and white and showing three generations of women with a barred window behind them; and ‘The music died’ a painting of a headless woman with a broken Sittar.
“Graphics are his strong point,” commented Prof Saeed Akhtar, who was also at the opening, “He is very clear in this medium. Through graphics he has conveyed the message strongly and clearly”.
Not everyone was entirely supportive of Mr Abro’s style. Art lover Shireen Masood, a lawyer, said “I don’t understand abstract. I’m a realist. I like realism in proper forms and figures. Yet Abro has depicted the oppression and suppression of women through his rather abstract paintings.” In her opinion the message was good, but the form could be improved: “I think there should be more paintings on the issue in clearer images and that such work should be taken to schools and colleges so the younger generation can understand the issue.”
The exhibition will continue till October 29. The artist will be available here till October 25.