First Published in Economic Affairs (Isl) / June 2014
They say it was dark - the lights had been turned off, and doors of the French Cultural Centre locked when a gentleman arrived, and bought 7 paintings – among them was a set of 4 honoring the elements which the artist had been reluctant to break.
Alliance Francaise de Karachi had invited six painters to be a part of the inaugural ceremony of their new Resource Centre. A charming Diptych by Paul Mehdi Rizvi that blended in so beautifully, and was erroneously believed to be a part of the décor was actually from the exhibit.
The Centre which has gone through several iterations over the years, and lay forgotten as a storage space, now offers combined facilities of a study section, cultural corner, a recreational area, and on May 15th - a taste of contemporary art.
Babar Moghal, Omar Farid, Henri Souffay, M. Akram Spaul, Scharjeel Sarfaraz, and Paul Mehdi Rizvi had been enlisted as their opening act. Inside, somewhere by the book shelves lay a wall that had been taken up by an extravagantly imagined psychedelic dreamscape - the hallmark of Farid.
12 offerings by French artist Henri Souffay were pen & ink on paper rendered in exquisite detail –one came imprinted by compelling visions of dark dungeons (sans dragons), another included a quick nod to the local artisans. Scharjeel’s transcendent expression marked by a touch of divine had been bookended by the stunning simplicity and sunny optimism that is Spaul.
Omar Farid lights up at the thought of Babar Moghal’s Pink Floyd inspired series exhibited earlier. Babar had left Floyd out from his luxuriant statements shrouded in ochre mist, and had gone off the beaten path – scaling monuments fused with a mythical aura and traipsing by forests under the moonlit sky.