18th January 2024
Shab by Ahsan Memon
When walking through the gallery to take in Ahsan Memon’s hall of portraits, a feeling of loneliness pierces through the air, our own isolation, as well as the subjects’. With their closed eyes and averted gazes, I am alone in the room. The figures do not look at me, they don’t perceive me, but instead invite me to look at them. Most art workshops Memon attended in his youth, were committed to approaching figuration by first and foremost learning to illustrate the eyes. Turning the gaze of his subjects inward, his technique is interested in resisting its own foundations and freezing time for the beholder.
The title ‘Shab’ which translates to “night”, lends its hand to the darker palette of Memon’s paintings. Memon concerns himself with tone in his art, the loudness or tranquility emitted by the paint and when the viewer really starts to listen to the paintings, the reflective chaos can be heard. Memon’s paintings are not concerned with the material world or one conceptual goal, but rather depict an abundance of interiority and psychological depth.
The figures, maybe given their loneliness through the fuzzy nature of the paint or the negative space, are asking to be known. The absence of open eyes encourages viewers to focus on other facial features, prompting a thoughtful exploration of the nuanced expressions and emotions conveyed. The paint outlining some of the characters is an accident. It is caused organically, mainly due to the raw surface of the canvas which absorbs the paint and lets it spread uninhibited unlike Ahsan’s subjects. Through a combination of timing and intention, the portraits are ironically contained by the spilling paint, further manipulated by Memon in all of its ethereal character.
Ahsan Memon's collection of paintings speaks to the heart of human experience, transcending cultural boundaries. The exhibition promises an immersive journey into the artist's world, where silence speaks volumes and closed eyes reveal the depth of introspection. The artist's masterful use of dark and subtle tones, combined with the rich texture of the oil medium, adds depth and emotion to the canvases. Memon's technique, characterized by careful brushstrokes and nuanced play of light and shadow, enhances the overall impact of his creations. The quiet and subtle tones beckon viewers to engage on a deeper, more contemplative level. Memon’s restrained approach allows for a nuanced exploration of feeling, mood and seeing another.
Ahsan Memon (born 1989) is an art practitioner from Lahore, Pakistan. He completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the National College of Arts, Lahore, where he received the distinction award in 2016. Ahsan further pursued and completed his Master of Arts from the same institution in 2019. Memon has consistently exhibited exceptional artistic works on national and international platforms. Notable exhibitions featuring his art include Witness, a prominent display as part of Karachi Biennale 01 in 2017; Cross Borders, curated by Quddus Mirza at the Swiss Ambassador's Residence in Islamabad in 2018; and A Site for Sight, an event of the Lahore Biennale 02 in 2019.
He has also participated in several art residencies including the ISL Art Residency and the Pioneer Art Residency, both curated by the renowned Canvas Gallery in Karachi in 2017. He contributed to Taaza Tareen 8, an esteemed residency program organized by the Vasl Artist Collective in Karachi in 2016. He has been recognized through prestigious artist awards such as the Young Artist Award in the annual exhibition About Time held at Alhamra Art Gallery, Lahore, in 2015. In 2008, he was recognized in the Benazir Bhutto Painting Competition at the Mehran Arts Council in Larkana.