Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A major survey show of Pakistan’s top contemporary artist

Rashid Rana, arguably among the most innovative and surely the most celebrated contemporary artists from Pakistan, has had exhibitions around the world to much critical applause. Incidentally, the artist’s first ever major retrospective takes place in his home country.

Mohatta Palace Museum in Karachi hosts an ambitious survey of his inventive works that pursue the logical trajectory of his illustrious career right from his evolving years as a talented artist to his rising to fame as a highly successful personality in the world of art. Some of his most noteworthy multimedia installations are on view, underscoring a unique technique, which has fetched him acclaim and pre-eminence.

The versatile practitioner is known in the global art circles for his digital photographic mosaic stemming from masterful manipulations, resulting in intricately detailed and meticulously layered works. They engage the viewer at multiple levels. His blending of digital media and photography leads to images created out of countless miniscule pixels.

Dexterously juxtaposing these images, Rashid Rana obscures the boundaries between two and three dimensional forms. He challenges us to decipher the relationship between the macro and the micro image. On drawing closer, one detects the more apparent or larger pixelated images are actually small photographs that in a miraculous assembly produce the larger image!

He invariably lays out the smaller images as a paradox or contradiction to the larger ones, capturing a poignant duality.” Divided in three separate sections, the exhibition is the most comprehensive survey of his two-decade long art, including paintings done during his career’s early phase up to the most famous installations that sum up the intricacy and depth of his art practice, its themes and concepts.

In 1927, Shiv Rattan Mohatta, a successfull Marwari entrepreneur, commissioned a palatial house in the affluent seaside neighbourhood of Clifton. The architect commissioned for his palace, Agha Ahmed Hussain, was one of the first Muslim architects of India. At Partition in 1947, Mohatta Palace was acquired by the newly established Government of Pakistan to house its Ministry of Foreign Affairs. When the Foreign Office moved to Islamabad in 1964, the palace was given to Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah.

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