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Where love & hate collide

Two Lahore-based artists use art as a medium to express their feelings regarding the current political scenario in the country they call home

They Said It Was Love is the name of an ongoing exhibition showcasing the works of artists Imran Quereshi and Atif Khan. "The dynamics of love and hate are highlighted to show how everything is not as it seems," explains Lakeeren curator Arshiya Lokhandwala, elaborating on the idea behind the concept.


Opening Word Of This New Scripture by Imran Qureshi

About the collaboration between the artists, who are both from Lahore in Pakistan, Arshiya says, "I have known Imran (Quereshi) for decades and have wanted to collaborate with him for some time now. Through him, I met Atif  (Khan), which is how the show happened."


All Are the Colours of My Heart by Imran Qureshi

Quereshi is the winner of this year's Sharjah Biennale Art Prize and Khan has won the 2007 Commonwealth Arts & Crafts Award. Among Quereshi's paintings, there is one that depicts lotus petals turning into flaming red splatter patterns, reflective of war and ethnic cleansing.


Celebration by Atif Khan depicts ants crawling over red roses

Khan's paintings seem to convey harmony, but on closer inspection one will discover darker elements, including houseflies, ants and eyes gazing eerily back at the viewer. Through the 20 paintings, the artists have attempted to depict the aesthetics of violence, while challenging the existing techniques of miniature painting and printmaking.


Lakereen is showcasing 20 artworks by Imran Quereshi and Atif Khan

Blood-filled motifs and hints at disturbing elements are prominent in the works, but there are also hints that love will conquer all in the end. An example of this is the resemblance of bloodied handprints on the wall, which on second look reveal lotus flowers and tiny buds, symbolic of hope and the continuation of life even after the worst calamities.

Lahore: Emerging art capital
Pakistan has a vibrant contemporary art scene with Lahore being recognised as the emerging art capital of the country. Young talent is seeking an outlet through art to express the tense geo-political situation in the region.

Arresting images include This Leprous Brightness, a series of gouache on wasli art (opaque water colours on archival paper), Opening Word Of This New Scripture and All Are The Colours Of My Heart, which highlight bloodshed carried out in the name of religion, using blood splatter imagery.

"Art is a form of resistance and a means of engaging in a contemporary discourse," says Lokhandwala, adding, "As they live in a controlled society, they (artists) cannot openly comment, and find expression through painting. That's what lends that mad energy to the paintings."

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