By Nadeem Zuberi, WEEKLY PULSE MAGAZINE, January 27, 2014
Roaming in Mughal era through A Q Arif’s paintings was a pleasant experience. The images of diverse and contrasting environments are juxtaposed in one space showing the work of exceptional architectural heritage of Pakistan. He portrays each building with every possible feature that brings his paintings almost real giving a feeling of actually being there.
His work gives the sight of the place as well as insight of our heritage. He manipulates color and structure bringing out a traditional form with a true image on a canvas. His style is a result of his experimentation in form and texture through repetition of same subject matter in various color schemes creating panoramic view of historical architecture.
His collection of paintings in a solo exhibition at Chawkandi Art Gallery, Karachi show famous buildings from the Mughal Empire and also newer structures that show inspiration from the Mughal time period.
His current works reveals a prominent balance. His paintbrush gives life to forgotten places and capture silent moments. The ancient architecture and design of old buildings inspires him a lot. He loves heritage of the country and try to create awareness about such sites.
While going through his recent works I saw some new dimensions in his work. His previous work is well rehearsed set of forms, which appears repeatedly in his paintings. Without a trace of life human or animal or vegetation the same designs are composed in bright harmonious colors. But now he has drawn human figures, trees and shrubs and kites flying in the open sky connecting the fantasy world of historical buildings of our country with the present time. The wind catchers and the clouds add a touch of known ambiance to the viewer.
But this time he also paints living symbols like human figures, trees and small wild flowers to breathe life in his buildings of sand and brick. There is also a new style of geometric patterns on the walls of the buildings other than reflection of the building on the ground, which gives a new charm to his paintings. With well-defined lines, balanced by light and shadows the stately nostalgic works offer viewers a somewhat different perspective of the historical buildings.
His motifs and architectural forms filled with hues of ochre and blue with a touch of green, red and yellow. He paints small items like shrubs and wild flowers, water lilies which allow him to add red and white in bits to break the monotony of ochre. Strategically the images of heritage sites in few paintings are done in a single color – ochre and blue to enhance the luminosity of surface. Color serves as a basic element and enhances the texture of symbolic patterns.
Some elements of the paintings evoke the touch of eastern richness and spirituality. Peace and tranquility grips his new work in some of his paintings he uses calligraphy in the foreground to enhance this effect.