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Isn’t She Lovely

Amna T Naqvi and Aasim Akhtar
Gandhara-art November 2008,
Hardback, 54 pages
ISBN : 988172664-6

Ayesha Durrani is a contemporary artist whose training in miniature painting from the National College of Arts is evident, as she reveals her dexterity with the medium, by treating both smaller works as well as delving into large-scale works. Her vocabulary is revisited in the familiar image of the mannequin. The treatment, of this familiar theme is what makes the current work so interesting. Durrani’s work is an up-close view that fragments and brings every rough edge to the surface, conferring an autonomous life upon what we believe to be accessory. She depicts bodies as unbridles automata in search of independence, drawing attention to minute details which are, eperhanps, much more significant than the expression on a face, which is supposed to reflect our soul and identity. An individual’s wholeness is dismantled in order to give rise to an identity constructed through singularity. While the subjects she paints remains anonymous in the literal sense of the term, this is the condition for discovering other aspects if identity: anonymous subjects are used to show that bodies are however little we may notice it, rarely anonymous. The solitary mannequin is the central figure in her narrative. She is the protagonist and there are other mannequins surrounding and supporting her. Ladies-in-waiting eagerly clustered around this noble lady. She is not just black; but reveals herself in various shades and patterns like a proud princess. She uses the technique of Mughal formalism and rigid symmetry, in displaying her heroine as a solitary royal personage.