Everything Is Going Upside Down: A Canvas of Pakistani Resilience

Everything Is Going Upside Down

Islamabad recently played host to an extraordinary exhibition curated by Usman Ahmed, titled “Everything is Going Upside Down.” Held at Sir Syed Memorial Hall, this showcase brought together a diverse collection of 21 artists, each contributing their unique voice to a powerful narrative.

Art, in its many forms, is a reflection and commentary on social nuances. In Pakistan, where we have witnessed a complex socio-political landscape marred by uncertainties and numerous challenges, curator Usman Ahmed’s exhibition emerged as a platform for artistic expression.

“Everything is Going Upside Down: Group Show” provided a canvas for these artists to articulate the struggles inherent in navigating economic turbulence, political upheavals, and the pervasive shadow of social injustice.

Through an array of art pieces showcased at the exhibition, a profound message of resilience was also clear encapsulating the spirit and determination of Pakistan’s youth, and their unwavering resolve to persevere.

Speaking about the exhibition, curator Usman Ahmed says, “Everything is Going Upside Down’ offers a diverse array of mediums and techniques, providing a unique perspective on a world turned upside down. This exhibition is a testament to the resilience of the Pakistani people, using art as a medium to bring attention to important issues while embracing the cathartic release of laughter”.

He further adds, “It is a call to action, reminding us to find humor in adversity and serving as a beacon of light in uncertain times…Resilience, the thread that ties us all together, echoes through the artworks and narratives on display”.

The following artists were part of the exhibition: Samiya Mahir Sheikh, Mohsin ur Rehman Baig, Misbah Qasim, Nosheen Sadiq, Marium Kamal, Kalsoom, Irfan Abdullah, Malika Batool, Hassan Tahir Latif, Quratulain Dar, Aimen Kathia, Sabir Abro, Hira Noor Baig, Electra Simon, Adeen Habib, Aleezah Qayyum, Zameer Hussain, Zainab Burhan, Fatima Kaleem, Sarah Ahmed, and Hamza Khan Sherwani.

Showcased pieces ranged from Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 75,000 only. Although almost all pieces showcased were an absolute delight to experience, some deserve a notable mention:

Hamza Khan Sherwani’s “Orange Pants”

Everything Is Going Upside Down

The painting set on a vivid orange backdrop showcases a world attuned to unfulfilled aspirations that is met with harsh realities of poverty, inflation, and basic needs.

Sherwani says, “Amidst this struggle, whimsical and playful elements are woven in, serving as a reminder that even in life’s most challenging moments, moments of levity can be found. This painting invites viewers to reflect on the universal struggle of balancing dreams and survival in a world that often feels like it’s turned upside down”.

Quratulain Dar’s “The American Dream”

The American Dream is a painting that shows a reflection of women’s mindset in the face of numerous challenges in Pakistan. A woman, donned in green and white, holds a foreign passport to her chest and dreams of escaping.

Dar says, “Mainly through the blend of fiction and reality, I explore the gender and power dynamics in the society. My work often contains socio-political commentary. This work too, questions the ideas of nationalism and patriotism in the face of adversity.”

Hassan Tahir Latif’s “…I can’t go back to yesterday, I was a different person then.”

This painting is a digital photographic print that looks at reality through a kaleidoscope. Through the painting you experience captivating dance of order and chaos working together with evident harmony.

Latif says, “This work, created through a kaleidoscope, represents our distorted reality, as well as the un­deniable inherent beauty of the world around us.”

Samiya Mahir Sheikh’s “Please, please me” and “Scottish Misery”

Everything Is Going Upside Down

These paintings explore a world in flux, where ordinary is transformed into the extraordinary. There is an evident display of disruption and sense of life’s difficulty in the painting.

Shiekh says, “I invite viewers to question their own perceptions and embrace the uncertainty of life’s unpredictable nature. My art serves as a visual metaphor for the resilience and adaptability required to navigate the ever-shifting landscapes of existence, ultimately encour­aging a re-evaluation of what we consider normal and stable. I suggest – is it really upside down? I question – is it really upside down? I answer – is it really upside down?”

In the wake of this thought-provoking showcase, it becomes evident that art, when infused with purpose and conviction, becomes a formidable force—a beacon illuminating the path towards resilience, optimism, and the unwavering pursuit of a better future.

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