Exhibit: What a difference an epiphany can make

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011 6:30:09 by



Before you get to the focused art being presented at Rohtas Gallery by Karachi-born artist Sana Obaid, the room, dimly lit in red, lends the overall presentation an aura of mystery, setting the tone for what is to follow.

Obaid’s work, titled ‘Epiphany’ as an ode to her shift from miniature to unconventional art, includes 13 installations that alternatively captivate and inspire viewers. The pieces themselves are largely abstracts created from double-sided duct tape on acrylic and plastic sheets. Pieces can be viewed from both sides and appear to change colour because of the double-shaded tape.

The exhibit according to the artist can be described in different ways—emergence, realisation and divine inspiration were some of the words she used—but is perhaps a journey of self-discovery for the artist through experimentation, attempting to shun conformist methods. The end result is work of decisive labour and internal reflection.

Obaid feels the work was born out of a cathartic need to release her emotions and communicate her thoughts adequately. What began as random ripping of duct tape and placing pieces on sheets, consistent work brought about the realisation that “in a way, I was a finding a strange sort of release.” But not all pieces are abstract — the most relatable is “The Gifted Land”, created through duct tape representing the self-destructive path Pakistan is on. The flag, created entirely in tape, is ripped to shreds with the only identifying markers being the crescent and star.

Besides the pieces developed using duct tape, falling in line with the overall theme of experimentation are two toilet rolls in glass cases. About this, Obaid says the drawings in red serve as a metaphor for how relationships and expectations are wasted.

The paper has drawings and script which are “my thoughts and henna patterns. The toilet paper is a product made to be wasted, which was why it was used.”

According to the curator, Asim Akhtar, the pure eccentricity of the exhibit, which will remain open till December 21, is part of its charm.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 13th, 2011.

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