Pictorial icons of Urban Social Disorder

‘Karachi Kahaniyan’ opens at Khaas Art Gallery

Moeen Faruqi’s latest exhibition at Khaas Art Gallery, that opened on Tuesday, precisely captures the consequences of urbanization such as stressful life, social disorder and identity crisis. The rich colours portray the beautification of apparent lives including homes and attires, as one leap towards the urban lifestyle, while the eccentric facial expressions of the human beings depict the emptiness inside one’s heart as one move away from the traditional way of life.

Several artists and art lovers of the city gathered to witness Faruqi’s vibrant pallette and stylized figurative paintings as the Karachi based artist has exhibited in Islamabad after many years. An interesting painting titled ‘Karachi Kahaniyan’ remained the center of attraction. By adding multiple subjects and objects, the artist has not only made the artwork appealing but also confusing at the same time as it is hard to focus on one story. The artwork perhaps explains the artist’s idea of the Karachi city, a city mostly known for its liveliness, affluence and less known for being the most populous city of Pakistan.

The art exhibition is appropriately titled Kahaniyan (Stories) as each canvas tells a different story of the daily life of a modern man, so that viewers may interpret it according to their own view of life. Strong primary colours in acrylic and oil, though give an impression that the people in Faruqi’s figures are living a delightful life full of colours, but their hollow eyes, and stone-faced expressions suggest that they are rather devoid of human emotions.

His stylized figurative works are narrative; hence titles are an important feature in his practice. However, the artist says that his work is still very much open to interpretation. The protagonist in his paintings, usually staring out of the canvas, represents himself. The paintings titled as ‘Man No. 1’ and ‘Woman No. 2’ are in fact the pictorial icons of a confused person living a modern yet insecure life and hence facing social disorder. While the painting titled ‘The Family’ represents the uniqueness of each individual, even though the person may be living with the family, having diverse values. The artwork indicates towards the urban lifestyle which has added to the confusion of young souls who have a unique lifestyle to follow but at the same time they are connected to the family, which is their true identity.

According to Marjorie Husain, an art critic: since his first exhibition in the eighties, Faruqi has explored human beings as mute prisoners of their innermost feelings depicting subjects living in close proximity yet emotionally far apart.
Moeen Faruqi is one of Pakistan’s prominent artists, having exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions all over the country and abroad. His work is part of several private collections worldwide, and has been cited in several books on art in Pakistan. His writings and poems have appeared in literary journals internationally.

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