Art exhibition: Is imitation the sincerest compliment?

Two of Hussain’s drawings, Modern Ethic and Being III. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: 

Umaira Hussian exhibited her thesis, a total of 30 works, at the Shakir Ali Museum on Tuesday. Hussain is a PhD research scholar at the University of Punjab at the College of Art and Design. Her thesis is titled, Resurrecting Sadequain.


Hussain showed mostly sketches, seven pieces were oil paintings.


Hussain, speaking with The Express Tribune, said, “I have reproduced the stylistic features of Sadequain’s drawings. The subject matter, though consistent with Sadequain’s social vision, is relevant to the current climate.” She said that she had tried to resurrect the quality of his thoughts in the form of art.


Research scholar Ajmal Hussain, also a teacher at the National College of Arts, observed that Hussain’s work brought the quality of the great master’s thoughts and artistic inclinations. “She has imitated several stylistic features of Sadequain’s paintings with breath taking accuracy,” he added.


Dr Shahida Manzoor, assistant professor at the College of Art and Design, felt that Hussain had such control over her skill that at times it was hard for her to distinguish between the lines of the legend and of the student.


She said that Hussain was such an expert in Sadequain’s work that she could point out fakes.


The professor rejected any charge of plagiarism that could be levelled at Hussain. “In a post modern era, one can take ideas from the past, play with them and give them a new shape. This is what Umaira has done and I must say she has done it well,” she added.


Fine arts student Rabia Ilyas found herself “mesmerised by the resurrection of the legend’s work by the artist.” Ilyas pointed out that Sadequain changed his style during General Ziaul Haq’s regime. “He referred to Ghalib and Iqbal’s poetry in his work. Umaira does the same thing, she refers to Sadequain,” the student observed.


‘Being III’ examines the exploitation of people though brands. It criticises the capitalist proposed life style. ‘Veracity’ shows a beautiful woman in front of a mirror. What looks back at the viewer is far from beautiful.


The artist comments on the inner and outer contradictions of people. ‘Modern Ethics’ is a tree of evils that prevail nowadays and which, according to Hussain, the common man cannot escape.


The show is on till July 2nd.


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