Out of the box
Pakistani visual artist Sohail Abdullah is against boxing artists into being representative of their countries
PHOTO: V. SREENIVASA MURTHY
Green light Sohail loves the city for its trees
Twenty-three-year old Sohail Abdullah went crazy in the dark room. The Pakistani visual artist who was a student of Fine Art (Sculpture) says, “I have always been doing arty things.” After two years of documentation in black and white, Sohail feels that as “a Pakistani, 23 and male”, art symbols are globalised.
“One becomes a photographer after travelling. It is incorrect to box artists into being representative of their nationalities and symbols of their country.”
The Karachi-based artist finds that in Pakistan, typical artistic symbols are burkhas and chappals, and India it would be the ghai (cow). “It is baseless if someone asks you about your photos taken in Vietnam and expects you to exhibit or capture symbols only from your home country.”
Sohail stresses on the importance of diversity in art. “Art is something very personal. But it is said that the personal is universal.” He also asserts for an artwork to be aesthetic and of value, it should be difficult to explain. “It is only when it is rich and complex, will it mean something.” In this way, he also means that artwork should be open and accessible, unlike science.
Sohail who has been in India for the Max Mueller Bhavan/Goethe-Institut photography workshop, says he enjoyed documenting the works of other artists.
“Urban Changes”, a travelling exhibition, is where he, with other photographers from South Asia displayed their works on the changing urban environment. “I love Bangalore for its trees”, pointing out to a leafy one outside his room in the creative gallery at No. 1, Shanthi Road.
He finds that art-communities are definitely more receptive and tolerant of artists worldwide even in times of crisis and violence. Sohail believes that now, the biggest loss is the climate of fear that is pervading.
As a resident of Pakistan, he feels that outside media has portrayed his country differently. When asked about press censorship during Musharaff’s tenure, he cryptically said: “That’s what the Indian media likes to believe.”
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