Peace, women`s freedom on canvas of Pakistani artists

New Delhi: Pakistani artist Fizza Saleem`s paintings hint at the constant struggle between the mind and heart to "let go off the troubled past", while Ayesha Durrani`s miniatures draw on the struggle of women in a patriarchal society. These are among expressions that have found a narrative in an exhibition here.

Five Pakistani women artists along with four contemporary Indians have come together for the six-day exhibition, organised by Empowerment, an NGO that advocates using art and culture as tools for social change.

Pakistan`s High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit inaugurated the exhibition "Colours of Hope" Friday at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations here.

He hoped such cultural exchanges will help India and Pakistan to forge good social and economic ties.

"People-to-people contact should grow between the two nations so we can forge better cultural and economic ties. Future has great things for us and I say it without the shred of any doubt that things will be better in future," he said at the inauguration.

"India and Pakistan are two great countries and your work can inspire us (diplomats) to nurture peace and prosperity. We can work together to get away from the perennial conflict," he added.

Elaborating on her miniature paintings in which she has used a mannequin, Lahore-based Durrani said she has always depicted the vulnerability and nakedness of women through these mannequins.

"The idea is to show how women in Pakistan are still struggling to get out of the patriarchal society where they are expected to follow all rules of religion, unlike men who have complete freedom. So, when a woman decides to step out from a conservative family to earn and work, she is burdened by the guilt, if she is doing the right thing," Durrani told IANS.

"In Pakistan, we have this old saying that women are to be seen and not heard. They are `bewakoof` (fools). I have depicted this struggle through my paintings that try to find a place of identity," she added.

For Karachi-based artist Saleem, her paintings come with the message of "letting go".

"It is very important to let go off small things. Patriotism is something that will always stay, and we should be proud of ourselves. But for better, relationships between the two countries should be friendly and flourish," Saleem told IANS.

Three others -- Nariam Hanif, Romessa Khan and Amna Iiyas -- too have used various mediums to showcase their creativity.

The exhibition ends April 2.

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