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'Love' on display at Islamabad's art gallery

Adam and Eve romancing in a huge garbage heap! A Mughal emperor wooing a 21st century scantily-clad model! This is how Pakistani artists convey their idea of love.

world Updated: Nov 07, 2007 12:52 IST

Adam and Eve romancing in a huge garbage heap, a Mughal emperor wooing a 21st century scantily-clad model with "you don't know how much I love you" and a bleeding heart popping out of a swank leather jacket this is how Pakistani artists conveyed their idea of love at the National Art Gallery in Islamabad.

The images of love, which even had Bollywood's Shah Rukh Khan with his love interest in a very-1970ish poster, were put together by curator Rabia.

Anwar Saeed's collage "Kings Never Fall in Love" and Ali Talpur's "I Love You" with the tag line "you don't know how much I love you" told the woes of modern love.

Omer Khan's heart a very clinical take on the highs and lows in love greeted viewers at the entrance. Giving it company was Shah Rukh Khan in a painting titled "All Is Well If The End Is Well".

But it was the women artists who stole the show.

Masooma Syed's blood-red long leather coat with a bleeding heart was a show-stopper. Juxtaposed across her work was Adeela Suleiman's even more intriguing union of human existence "It Feels Like Fire".

Suleiman used gear box covers, peppered with red pom-poms and roses to depict the males. The females were placed several layers below their companions, depicting their status in society, with mostly knots, and not roses, dotting their existence.

With Jamil Baloch's sculpture of towering black-veiled women greeting visitors in the forecourt of the gallery, quite a few visitors were pleasantly surprised at the exhibits.

"This is one of the most popular galleries here because the theme is Love. However, most visitors don't expect to see such images. Some express shock, some appreciate the works," informed an intern at the gallery.

Rabia, the curator of the gallery, quoted Umberto Eco to explain her concept of love. ". A man who loves a very cultivated woman and knows he cannot say to her, 'I love you madly' because he knows that she knows (and that she knows that he knows) that these words have already been written by Barbara Cartland. Still, there is a solution. He can say, 'As Barbara Cartland would put it, I love you madly'."

A lot of artists played safe. For instance, in the painting that showed Adam and Eve romancing in a garbage heap, both figures had a western look, but the garbage was very Pakistani.

Some others boldly tread on trickier issues like same-sex love. Sadequain with his "Kiss II", Hanif Ramay with "Contemplations", Jamal Shah with "Situations" and Nusra Latif Qureshi with "Conversations" provided enough meat to visitors to chew on.

But not all works stirred the gray matter. Nadia Shaukat's "Eye Love You" which took up a lot of space looked like a kindergarten-goer's take on love. Shaukat adorned her corner with small glittering hearts and sad and happy eyes, a brand of love that has been done to death.

First Published: Nov 07, 2007 12:45 IST