The Zen of Photography.
Walking into Sattar Buksh CafACopyright for the first time I didn't know quite what to expect in terms of an exhibition space. Eleven in the morning it seems is too early for a coffee shop in Karachi to open its doors but a kindly soul did agree to let me in to view Amean J's solo. The gallery located on the first floor above the cafACopyright turned out to be fair sized; large windows opening out into a sunlit day. The space was just right for Amean's work mostly medium-sized prints with a couple of large images.
With the current work Amean explores a more abstract dimension. Titled: Walking the fine line between light and shade the show lives up to its name as it treads the delicate line between not just light and shade but between object and shadow the real and the unreal the absent and present.
Amean is a versatile artist and while street photography has always been an interest this time the genre took a different turn as he walked the streets of Beijing away from the usual landmarks wandering the streets around the Forbidden City. Using the Canon 5D Mark II a DSLR that is now the pro's camera of choice for both high definition still and video he decided not to shoot from the hip" as he does quite often on the street but to point the camera downwards and document the shadows created by signage buildings elements of the environment.
Amean cites the New York born classic street photographer Garry Winograd as a major influence in his work. It was when he first saw Winograd's photographs at the Frankel Gallery in San Francisco that Amean decided that he wanted to become a photographer. Photography" said Winograd is not about the thing photographed. It is about how the thing looks photographed."
The black and white digital prints in the show hang upon a common thread exploring not the object itself but its shadow within the context of the street and built environment. Digital photography in black and white can be tricky but Amean manages to coax the right balance of tones into the digital print the delicate shadows and highlights on cue.
Light/shade#1 the opening image of the show is a perfect example of the way everyday elements meld with the photographer's vision to create a haunting image. Chiaroscuro provides a template for these images and a subtle interplay of texture and form completes the work. Thus the bicycle shadow the asphalt the cracked sidewalk conspire to build a sense of time and place.
There is an absence of human form in the work a sense of absence that actually suggests presence - as if a person had just walked out through this uninhabited space.
The layers of form and texture are equally apparent in Light/shade#--- (need to check number against show list) carpet of grass leaves shadowy branches patterning the surface. The cross-hatching of paved brick and wrought iron teases the eye in another image. Lampposts gossamer shadows in one image and looming ghostlike in another illustrate another dimension of the life of the street.
Amean says he chose the Sattar Buksh Gallery as he wanted to share the photographs with a different clientele from other galleries and with casual cafACopyright-goers who were probably not aware there was a gallery on the premises since Walking the fine line' was its first ever show. And the show does manage to catch the attention of even the unaware.
The work is playful yet fully resolved. In a career shifting between corporate work fashion and portrait photography Amean has made time to explore his personal vision. And this it seems has drawn him into the Zen of photography.