Text | Marium Qureshi
Visuals Courtesy | Ali Nazir Khan
These days art is all about strange juxtapositions and conceptual gimmicks. Although in todays age this ethos works well and the boundaries of art are stretching to include absurd but potent concepts and the grotesque is considered glamorous and bold. Anyone who questions their surrounding and trespasses the given rules is considered a rebel and hence someone who is capable of reaching great heights. Infact this is a paradox - more strength is required to follow the rules of life and work towards better creations not only in life but in art as well. To accept the boundaries of a society and a universal sub conscious requires a humble and relentless struggle to make a difference in an artists creation. Art should not always jar it should occasionally sooth as well. Nowadays the works of Romantics like Eugene Delacroix and Gustave Courbet although considered masters of their art and the fact that their art has received timeless appreciation but nowadays art is veering beyond the aesthetic. To rebel against the society has become norm. In other words a rebel is now a conformist- a rebel for sake a rebel. Nowadays still lives and other genres like landscapes or portraits are not given their due respect. Art for the sake of aesthetic is now considered a craft and at best termed as derogatory “merely skillful”.
This way of thought is conducive to artists that have studied art and have had the exposure to the current global art scene. Their work is not necessarily instinctive or intuitive infact their mindset is influenced greatly by their learned experience. Hence art and the artist can be labeled as trite in their effort to stretch the boundaries of art. In short to create art that remains in the boundaries of aesthetic and for the pure essence of beauty is a bigger revolution. Contrived juxtaposition is not as noble as spontaneous art that appeals instinctively.
In todays day and age there are many unsung heroes who are untrained in the current principals of art but work quietly because of their instinctual urge to catch transient beauty for the need to fulfill an urge to create. They are not trying to prove a point. They haven’t had any training in a lot of cases - even exposure to the most basic art principals of the world. This is also true in the field of photography. Since camera does not require any skill set like drawing and sculpting and only an eye for aesthetics is required lots of people adopt it as a hobby. A click of a button and they can preserve what catches their fancy.
One such unsung hero is Ali Nazir Khan. Belonging to a hardcore corporate world based in Islamabad where the rule of survival of the most ruthless is the principal to live by. Ali has little time for relaxation. His job requires him to travel extensively over the world. Ali’s art comes out of a paradox of the cut throat ruthless world and his feeling of peace that he acquires from the little time he gets with his family; a combination of paradoxical feelings of insecurity and soothing healing vibes. This bipolarity creates a seemingly unimaginative man into an artist who feels the urge to capture beauty in life through not only his minds eye but also an ever changing technology called the camera.
Ali Nazir is a telecommunication’s consultant who has studied hardcore engineering from circumstances where there was very little patience for imaginations and fancies. But his relentless effort to preserve aesthetics without much appreciation and recognition is almost poignant. These are small gestures that tell a tall tale about the resilience of human nature and the individual’s quest for a utopian society.
What makes Ali’s work a work of art is that he is spontaneous and boldly captures what catches his fancy instead of time spent pondering whether he should compose it or not. His work is aesthetic rather then conceptual. There are no contrived juxtapositions in his work. His work doesn’t always deal with panoramic views so often associated with tourist attractions but a glamorization of mundane objects that could be mere unimaginative objects of a corporate life. Objects like paperweights, doorknobs, children’s stuff toys strewn across the floor etc. a study of an orientalist perspective of people of the foreign world. Be it the exotic impact of a pygmy playing a local instrument to decaying gargoyle on an old church- a typical Englishman smoking a pipe outside a pub. Pictures of cozy huts of Switzerland very much on line of Thomas Kinkade’s kitsch art. In photography kitsch art is important to keep the tradition of art for the sake of beauty. Hence Ali Nazir Khan is a rebel because he conforms and he is an unsung artist in his own right.