Still Life for the Instagram Age
What happens when art moves beyond sight, trickling its way into smell, touch and sometimes sound? ‘Sensory Perceptions’, an aptly titled group show held at Full Circle Gallery in Karachi, brought together the works of three female contemporary artists who have created works that are purely visual and yet draw viewers into a multi-sensory experience.
Upon entering the gallery, you are greeted by none other than Maryam Arslan’s chromatically brilliant, good-enough-to-eat art – a three-tiered cake in this case. Known for her thick visceral renditions of food, there is an underlying playfulness in her work. Seductive and decadent, each piece created by Arslan has a joyful, almost reverent quality that is an ode to her love for painting and food. From cakes, crepes to a delicately hung frying pan with a splattered sunny side up egg in it, these whimsical pieces of art create a beguiling space where visuality meets tactility. You can smell the brownies as you stand before them, taste the icing without even touching it.
Upon entering the gallery you are greeted by none other than Maryam Arslan’s chromatically brilliant, good-enough-to-eat art
Meanwhile engaging with themes of childhood memories and imagination, Sara Suleman’s work stands at the center of the gallery. From digital prints to hanging MDF chairs, there is a feminine quality inherent in each piece. Unlike her usual design installations, this particular body of work depicts an encounter between her design background and her fine art foundation. Her digital works vary from familiar images to clamoring shapes, unrecognizable in content yet pulsating with energy. By mingling description and abstraction Suleman’s work weightlessly drifts the between recognition and reverie.
From digital prints to hanging MDF chairs, there is a feminine quality inherent in each piece by Sara Suleman
Tying the exhibition together, painter Rabia Ali’s work morphs and merges before the viewers’ eyes. Known for her abstract, textural pieces, Ali’s work is perfectly wedged between reality and fantasy. Waves of paint come together to form a malleable albeit beautiful mess that seems as though reality has melted and then re-solidified. Ali’s subjects revolve around the inconsistency of memory and dance between realms of imagination, dream and fabrication.
Known for her abstract, textural pieces, Ali’s work is perfectly wedged between reality and fantasy
“A few years ago, I got my brain scan done and that’s where my research started. Through my scans I started working with compositions and that’s why a lot of my compositions are inspired from my scans,” says Ali.
Balancing ambiguity and explanation, what is evident throughout the exhibition and perhaps what weaves the three bold personalities in the room together is their collective interest in memory and the metaphysical which lies beneath the colorful whimsical works they produce. Each piece dares to provoke the viewer, hitting them with sublime waves of excited beauty, all the while bending and probing their sensory parameters.