Using art to support people with autism
April 9, 2018 | 7:24 PM
by Times News Service
The exhibition Spectrum at the Omani Society for Fine Arts, also explores everyday scenes of life in Pakistan.

Spectrum, an exhibition of ninety works of contemporary art by twenty-two artists from Pakistan, was opened on World Autism Day. The exhibition is being held to support and raise awareness for the Oman Autism Society, building on a philanthropic heritage that is deeply rooted in both Pakistan and Oman. To this cause, the artists donated the proceeds from the sale of eight paintings at a silent-auction.

Currently on display at the Omani Society for Fine Arts, this exhibition represents the sixth such collaboration of the Pakistani community with the Omani Society for Fine Arts during the past ten years. Drawing on the strong cultural ties between Oman and Pakistan, Spectrum encourages engagement with contemporary works from Pakistan through a range of subjects and genres, including calligraphy, abstract painting, miniatures, landscapes, and streetscapes.

With all of its colours, Spectrum conveys the sheer beauty of Pakistan’s landscapes and transports the viewer with each representation. The calligraphy of Bin Qullander draws on mysticism, the ideal of inward perfection and traditions in the representation of spirituality. Qullander presents the Kalma and Surah Fateha in his signature curved style, in which boldness of colour and complexity of composition convey the power of holy verses. Master calligrapher Zulqarnain uses a classical approach to script, with flowing and overlapping verses intricately embellished with silver and gold leaf. The massive black canvases of Amir Kamal present verses in gold within the folds of the robes of whirling dervishes.

Muhammad Ibrahim builds intense and vivid landscapes through layers of overlapping calligraphy, in an ode to the omnipresence of the Divine.

Abid Khan produces images reminiscent of the great European Impressionists, freshly rendering the dazzling pink, crimson and mustard flowers of the countryside on his canvases.

Arshad uncovers nuances of mood and light, and the wealth of nature’s design, in the beautiful hills of Changa Manga where he paints. Similarly, Mughees Riaz depicts moving scenes of the pale blue and crimson hues of the sun setting on the Ravi river in Punjab. Seen as a whole, the exhibition portrays Pakistan’s landscapes through a stylistic narrative that appears to be surreal, and yet is experienced as familiar.

The exhibition also explores everyday scenes of life in Pakistan. Paintings by Dr Khalid Mehmood in black and charcoal grey capture the beauty of the historic city of Lahore, casting its narrow streets, arched gateways, and Mughal era monuments in a unique quality of light, as if filtered through thick summer clouds. Hussain Chandio’s works show the strength and resilience of women in distant Thar desert communities. He explains, “The inspiration for my work comes from the beauty of ordinary people interacting in customary ways in our culture. The richly embroidered, brightly coloured dresses of women walking in the streets with children and men create a powerful scene”.

His work presents a side of Pakistan that is both modern and deeply rooted in a traditional sense of community. Salman Farooqi paints cityscapes and coastal villages, capturing a sense of energy and peace through vibrant colour and simplicity of form. His canvases of fishing boats moored in small harbours are evocative of coastal villages in both Pakistan and Oman.

Spectrum will continue at the Omani Society of Fine Arts until April 12.

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