Contemporary artists MahwishChishty and Gunjan Kumar reimagine ancient landscapes of the Indus Valley in an exhibition showcased at “ZahoorulAkhlaq Gallery” National College of Arts, Lahore.

The Sindhu Project: Enigma of Roots is a multi-site exhibition that debuted at the South Asia Institute, Chicago in June 2021 and then reconfigured and split into two exhibitions, one at the National College of Arts’ Zahoor-ul-Akhlaq Gallery in Lahore and the other will be showcased at Exhibit320, New Delhi in January 2022.

The Sindhu Project embodies the responses of artists MahwishChishty and Gunjan Kumar to explorations of archaeological sites and artifacts in the expansive Sindhu (Indus) watershed, a geographical region stretching across northwest India and much of Pakistan. Through parallel journeys involving familial roots and enigmas of inhabited places across time, Chishty and Kumar bring contemporary art-making into dialogue with excavated forms that contribute to imagining this ancient riverine landscape.

MahwishChishty combines new media and conceptual work with materials and techniques of South Asian art and craft traditions. She holds a BFA with a concentration in Miniature Painting from the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan, and an MFA in Studio Arts from the University of Maryland in College Park. Gunjan Kumar is a process-based artist whose work involves ground earth and oyster shells, clay, calcium carbonate, and turmeric as core media applied on mulberry paper, wood, and other materials. Kumar has a degree in Textiles from the National Institute of Design and Technology, New Delhi.

This exhibition juxtaposes the rhythmic energy of Chishty’s suspended etched acrylic installations with the subtle dimensionality of Kumar’s organic works. Chishty focuses her investigation on Dharmarajika and the surrounding sites of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Taxila in Pakistan. Kumar’s work references her visits to Dholavira and Sanghol, archaeological sites in India associated with Harappan (Indus Valley) Civilization. Her works respond to textures, colors, and materials associated with the Harappan sites.

The exhibition at the National College of Arts’ Zahoor-ul-Akhlaq Gallery aims to cultivate the art and culture of South Asia and its diaspora while projecting the cultural heritage in a diverse manner where the audience can engage with the visuals and appreciate the shared history of the Indus civilization.

The exhibition received a great number of guests not only from academic institutions but also from all walks of life. PNCA Professor Dr. MurtazaJafri was in praise of the depth of research that the artists have put into producing the works. He added that it is of prime importance to talk about our SouthAsian heritage in contemporary times through non-eurocentric terms, which has been done in the past.

The show continues till 26th November 2021.

Author

Arsalan Haider is a reporter at Academia Mag and has worked with leading national dailies and news channels. He tweets @arsalanhaider14

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