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STONE & STORIES by S.M. Fawad (30th September – 4th October 2023)

STONE & STORIES by S.M. Fawad (30th September – 4th October 2023)

In a world that commemorates radical forms of modern and expressive art, S.M. Fawad's work centers itself on realism and instead prides itself in detaching the art from any artifice. It is a celebration of naturalism, an appreciation for the untouched world, an unbreakable vow and commemoration of fidelity towards the subject matter. 

The intricacies of Fawad's work are able to keep any viewer from wandering anywhere but within the bounds of the canvas itself, each element of his subject drawn to such precision and detail that it manages to leave one lost in its meticulous features.

The architectural facets of old Karachi and the areas of Saddar, neatly bricked columns and ornate balconies, Tuscan pilasters representative of renaissance revival styles, an homage to colonial architecture that still exists today, despite dwindling upkeep and maintenance, all elements visible in S.M. Fawad's main bodies of work that aim to not only pictorialize these exquisite structures in a timeless manner, but also bring about a feeling of reminiscence and a certain nostalgia. His paintings tell a tale of a time that came before us.

After a childhood spent in the midst of aesthetes, his primary exposure to the field through observing his uncle, Mashkoor Raza, who practiced art in his studio, Fawad was inevitably pulled towards the art world and garnered his academics in fine art, drawing inspiration from many names including the well-known artist Farrukh Shahab who became his mentor and teacher.

Most of his works incorporate placing the subject, or rather the object, in the center, usually a subsection of a building or foliage, at other times even an entire vehicle, yet all subjects appear to be still, motionless, captured at an impasse of time and space, in a state of perpetual preservation.

An absence of figures in his compositions helps detach the work from any human evocation or bias, catering only to the palpable structures portrayed and their appreciation. More than that, it also serves to enchant viewers with the technical skill and mastery with which each painting is executed.

In his superimposed balcony paintings, the alignment of each object in accordance to one another along with the shadows that are cast upon the stone walls, as light filters through the jalousies and the ornately structured metallic grilles, all aid in elaborating the negative and positive spaces of each element, creating drama and capturing the form in an aesthetically pleasing view. His skill comes remarkably apparent through the excruciatingly meticulous detail that follows all his works. His color palette remains soft, composed of earthy tones that pay tribute to these forms and exhibit a harmonious tranquility to these now forlorn and abandoned spaces. 

His paintings, encompassing an almost photographed look but not quite, bring forth a certain polished feeling, a certain definition to the presented structures that normally would be indecipherable to the common glance unless one stood in front of the actual building and observed, really actively observed the discernible elements and acknowledged their visual ensemble. It is an illusory reality, where for a moment, definition reigns. Every brick laid perfectly, each leaf following another in its entirety, the color palate mildly saturated that helps the work appear more vibrant and, in some way, “cinematic”. It's this very act of enhancement rooted in reality, or perhaps a feeling of embellishment that is bound by the laws of realism, that makes Fawad's work ignite a reflective affection for the concrete matter. 

Does his work imitate reality or transcend reality? Whilst the world faces a vast chasm when it comes to realism and hyperrealism, S.M. Fawad's work manages to imitate reality in an appreciative manner. An artist paints what he observes, but what is sight if not riddled with bias? One subject can possibly be having multiple layers that gives a privilege to a spectator to look what does he/she want to look, and in this particular scenario, when S.M. Fawad glances upon these colonial structures or the many crevasses of this city, he sees beauty that needs to be treasured, and thus manifests that adoration onto the canvas.

The canvas encapsulates a fiction within the reality and it does not aim to evoke any particular feeling or house an imagined entity. It is as though someone from the future is envisioning a picturesque flashback to the reality of their past, an aspect of longing and reverence intertwined within the recovered memory.

S.M. Fawad's work is an ode to observation. It comprises not only love for the subject matter, but an urge to depict what he sees as is, staying true to the form in front of him and presenting the viewer with an unfaltering beauty of the sights he paints.

Maheen Aziz


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