One of the very talented painters in Pakistan, Irfan Gul has opened his first solo exhibition of paintings at Artchowk gallery in Clifton, Karachi (http://www.artchowk.com/). Irfan was trained at the National College Of Arts, Lahore, one of the finest art institutions in the country. He initially took a major in textile design but a minor in fine arts with miniature painting opened up his much desired inner door to self discovery and vocation as a painter. His paintings express his deep probing, and questioning of his all life experiences from childhood uptil adulthood. There is intense focus on the female,anatomical, lower body imagey,almost as if he is remembering his own birth. His imaging the back, the pelvic region and female introitus almost gives the viewer an inner view into the pain, the difficulty faced both by the mother and the infant during delivery and after.Maybe he is influenced and revisiting this inerasible experience in the birth of his own daughter. The frequent use of blues, greens ,teals and yellows also in a cold way shows the lack of warmth for the experience and the memory.The painting showing incomplete body images with single distorted hands is reminiscent of the disfigured beggars so often found in carts by the bazaars and mazars in Pakistan. On the other hand they may reflect the distortions, the imperfections of our own selves and also the deception and hypocrisy in those around us. His intensely penetrating paintings seem to ask the viewer again and again as to what is the truth. What is the true meaning of beauty? What really is the true representation of existence,as it appears or as percieved.
His fine mastery of the technique of miniature painting is reflected in all his work. He has used, pigment on Wasli,acrylic, pen and ink. The perfection and finesse also shows his initial training as a textile designer. the figures do not show their faces as we are used to. Their, backs , hips, hands,legs speak volumes. An image almost like a placental envelope, a red thread "payal" on a woman's foot,show the detailed observation by the painter's eye. It leaves a lingering memory and insists on the viewer to start thinking about the female in our society, her difficulties, her life!
Upon my asking about the theme of Forbidden , the painter described tha inspite the prevalent "Love" culture in all our stories,poetry and literature, the discussion and expression is almost like a forbidden fruit. This hypocrisy he questions also.
The Art chowk gallery is a good endeavour by women who had this gallery online . Now this physical space in Clifton will give art lovers a place to enjoy themselves.