Contemporary artist Tassaduq Sohail returns to the Noble Sage in March in a solo exhibition which promises more of the stark realism which has seen him become one of the most controversial and respected Pakistani artists in the world.
This latest exhibition will be the third Sohail has staged at the North London gallery; the first in the UK which specializes in South Asian contemporary art.
Born in Jullundhar in East Punjab in 1930, Sohail’s formative years were spent in a country experiencing tremendous social and political upheaval. At partition in 1947, the entire region was plunged into bloody turmoil with different groups vying for domination. Those violent images have forever coloured his outlook on life and his work.
“People were lying on the roadside, killed… Arms and legs. And so many vultures and crows hovering to eat the flesh” he recalls.
Following the violence, Sohail and his family were forced to rebuild their lives from scratch, this time in Karachi.
The violence and oppression however, didn’t fade. The vacuum left by one type of extremist was filled by another, as the Mullahs began laying the ground work for a new, ‘correct’ way of life, imposed on a beleaguered people through oppression and abuse.
These supposedly pious figures would influence yet another strand of the work of Sohail who began to see all religions as the same repressive system, antithetical to the very act of living.
By 1961, the oppression around him forced Sohail to flee Karachi and move to England, where his first years were spent often destitute. After accidentally discovering he had an artistic gift, Sohail began to obsessively churn out small works of art.
The artist came to use a 'decalcomania’ technique, allowing blots of diluted ink created after pressing a piece of glass on the paper to suggest the image ahead or else using colourful watercolour backgrounds to propose imaginary figurative events.
The final results are often either descriptions of the fetid underside of life or else falsely (or ironically) upbeat descriptions of comedic scenes.
There is always a wry macabre sense of humour within all of his work. In different ways, Sohail uncovered in his pieces a life born of death and decay.
The works on show at this latest exhibition span the 1970’s and 80’s and demonstrate Sohail’s impressive handle of the medium as well as his own fascinating style of narration.
Tassaduq Sohail at the Noble Sage: 23rd March – 13th April by appointment only.
For more information, visit www.thenoblesage.com
- UKAsian Staff