Folds and Fantasies

We all have played with clay! We have shaped our innocent childhood dreams in it, and we all have smelled the fragrance of the earth after it gets wet with the first rain of monsoon. We are the inhabitants of a great Indus valley civilization where the River Indus locked in the virginity and fertility of this soil for centuries. This terrain has cradled the ancient civilizations of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa. History shows that mud, and clay has been a source of architecture as well as of visual expression since ages for the inhabitants of this part of the globe. If Mohenjo Daro offers the architectural planning to an astonishing level, Harappan Culture presents the terra cotta figurines as the visual documentation of Indus Valley History.

Our homeland Pakistan has always been beautiful and fertile, since the prehistoric period to date, chiefly due to the oxidization by the River Indus. Therefore, the love for this land and respect to the fertility of this soil is the same today as it was in ancient times. That is one reason that in most of our landscape paintings, earthen panorama pleases us to a maximum level in this genre, for which Khalid Iqbal served in the best of capacities.

On the other hand, our ceramists love to explore the delicacy and subtlety of the clay when they shape, mould and then bake this fine clay to create a meaningful statement.

In common, the art of ceramics is considered more related to the earthen pottery, which is, no doubt, the most exercised medium for this material. However, all materials have shaped themselves in the hands of artists, not in the hands of artisans, for an expression of high aesthetical and visual quality. In the same way, ceramic which has been a source of serving human civilizations for food in the shape of ceramic pottery, also provided humanity with an art form when it absorbed the imagination, emotions and dreams of the artist.

Jamil Hussain, is a new addition to already non-existing ceramic artists who does not use this material for pottery. He is a ceramist, who has used this medium with an approach of a sculptor, a mind of a reformer and a heart of a poet. Jamil has given his feelings and dreams, the heat of a kiln to delineate them in the daintiness of clay and the shine of sand.

Jamil holds an MFA Graphic Design Degree from University of the Punjab and calls himself as a ceramist and a graphic designer. However, when we look upon him closely, we may find a painter, a potter and a sculptor who is in the company of a tourist or a historian, and who is wandering around the perplexities of small-brick architecture of the Punjab.

Jamil held his first exhibition under the title of Mit Na Jayen Kahin (Lest It Vanished) where he came up with the idea of preserving our old heritage, which is, endanger of being vanished, geographically as well as from our memories. He sculpted a sort that could be judged as ceramic-models, showing motifs, architectural trends and conventional aesthetic of ancient architecture of Punjab.

Lately, Jamil has exhibited his ceramic-sculptures under the title of “Silent Whispers.” In this show, he has strived to spotlight the need of conservation for our built heritage. Every piece of this show was precisely presented as if it was pleading for attention.

Apart from the social and thematic aspect, Jamil Hussain has demonstrated his command and involvement in the material. He has made viewers to listen to the whispers that are veiled just beneath the fluorescent surface of the glazed ceramic-sculptures. Nevertheless, the colours and shades of his pieces are on the same pattern as of the traditional ceramists, but the idiom is of awareness is unfolded with every layer of these sculpts. The artist has put a question in every little niche or in Jharoka that opens in or out of these earthenware art moulds.

Along with the artistic and imaginative approach, one can find the realization of practical and usefulness character of these pieces as well. The texture of surface, the sizes of the creation and the potential of these creations to the cast light is also noteworthy. The artist has succeeded in creating his sculptures in a way that, they may respond differently when put under light coming from varying angles, it adds more volume and more absorbing depth in the work. The combination of clay and light, two vital elements of fertility, suggest the artist’s close observation of nature.

Jamil Hussain is a neophyte in this genre. However, the way he has adopted this way of expression, one can expect a long journey ahead of him that might be endless, but would have milestones on the way, to achieve sublime excellence.