Archive for the ‘Ramblings of an artist’ Category

Continuous stress is the worst curse of cosmopolitan city life in modern age of capitalism. Something from which people seem unable to disconnect. Even while enjoying vacations in solitude of nature, they are unable to ‘let go’,  unable to set aside things like job stress, professional targets, productivity, and calculations of profit and loss and organisational intrigues.

People are commonly seen in parks, restaurants, airports and hospitals;  stressed faces with taut muscles, buried deep in their laptops or cell phones; checking work mail, being accessible to others at a distance while oblivious of their surroundings.

As a result, they are unable to relax and fully appreciate the precious fleeting moments and what might be the most beautiful and  rewarding life experiences.

Can art play a relaxing role,  soothing injured, stretched nerves?

If so, how?

Susan Sontag has an answer. In one of her article on photography, she mentioned:

“Using a camera appeases the anxiety which the work-driven feel about not working when they are on vacation and supposed to be having fun. They have something to do that is like a friendly imitation of work: they can take pictures.”

I agree with this apt comment. In fact the same can be claimed for all types of art. However the problem is, what to do for people for whom art itself becomes another rat race to excel. Another tension, another cause of anxiety for a workaholic. New reasons to be jealous, to fret over missed opportunities, and another set of unending targets.

Art becomes another cross to carry, a proverbial straw on the already over burdened back.


Photography is an art. People use it for various purposes; to capture beauty around us, to express our own emotions some times in abstract and surrealistic styles. For others it is a tool to document culture and life style of a society.

Eric Kim, one of the famous street photographer and himself a student of sociology has compared photography with study of sociology with camera as a research too. A powerful medium to record history, rituals, festivals and important social issues of the time.

Making worthwhile cultural photography is not as simple as it seems. It requires curiosity to see what is significant around us and a thoughtful selection of what needs to be captured.

In this short presentation I would focus on wall posters and graffiti as an elements of photographic composition.  When used intelligently they blend with an artist’s work and when so combined; often make an interesting social statement.

With examples from my own work, I intend to show that how these can add to the overall impact of a picture. All of the pictures in this presentation are candid street shot taken from Lahore and Rawalpindi with an aim to present urban culture. Life in a cosmopolitan city, has an attraction that one can remain faceless amidst a vast ocean of people, a luxury denied to those from villages and small towns.

A picture is claimed to be worth 1000 words. Ideally it should speak for itself without help of additional description but in this presentation I would need to step in on some points for a bit of explanations.

First picture is about an artist doing wall painting in a drive to beautify the city. The picture shows blending of the artist with her art.

At times these graffiti can be used to create an interesting and even funny situations,



At times these graffiti can serve as an interesting background for a particular seen, either augmenting or interesting contrast with it and highlighting the intent of an artist.

If one has an eye, one can use them to augment a particular emotional element in a picture, thus emphasizing a festive or gloomy mood or even adding a touch of romance to the scene.


Sometimes these posters, paintings have apparently no connection with the scene but a carefully taken angle gives them a meaning as if they belong to the scene.

Like this beauty parlor on the pavement,

or the Kahkashan beauty parlor

Photography is a powerful tool to convey a social message, to start or support a reform movement and also to deliver a biting satire if needed.




This is the picture on which I received the maximum Subhan Allah, Mashal Allah and Jazak Alla. People that that though belatedly, at least I have become a pious Muslims. Better late than never.

This picture was taken on Independence day of Pakistan, when MML was formally launched. I posted it as a documentary evidence of an important change but had to face various objections from different quarters. One of them was that I had tried to glamorize Hafiz Saeed, giving him a larger than life stature; overpowering and dominating law enforcing agencies.

Although this was not my intention,  but that fact is that in our society some people are really more equal than others.

A time to reflect and ponder, what was the dream and what has been the outcome!



Posted: October 1, 2017 in Ramblings of an artist

Although often overlapping, introversion and shyness are not the same thing. Although I am very much an introvert, I am not shy in the least.

Both traits are often misunderstood, sometimes even shunned, by those who do not possess them, but in truth both culminate in a degree of heightened sensitivity.

Although such sensitivity may be a handicap in some aspects of life in a society where all too often those who scream the loudest receive the most attention, and those who socialize well are admired even if lacking in other ways; it can also be immensely rewarding when allowed to flourish. The sensitive person may be more easily hurt, but he or she also may perceive beauty and depths of feeling beyond the ordinary.

Art is a pursuit well suited for introverts and shy people. It is a form of asynchronous exchange of emotions, where one may evolve relationships with his or her audience that are at once both intimate and anonymous.


Solitude of the night

Posted: September 1, 2017 in Ramblings of an artist


It is often mentioned that a photograph is worth 1000 words. Probably its so but there are moments for which it doesn’t s not seem a suitable medium for expression.

In moments like these, one likes to sit back in a calm quite room reflecting on the inner turmoil waiting for the inner and outer circumstances converge emotionally, which is not always the case; and when it does so it might be in ways indescribable by any means of expression.

It is almost midnight at my native town. Whole family gathered for Eid celebration is excited for tomorrow’s festivities and children, in excitement have refused to sleep. Stillness of the night and its loneliness has stirred a storm of memories. Of times never to return again and of people—-without whom life seemed impossible once— never to be seen again.

An inner restlessness, realizing a deep void within the soul and solitude of the midnight is something which is impossible to convey. Unable to sleep, tossing in the bed, memories rushing in like torrents. Nostalgia of the past normally suppressed by professional requirements in cosmopolitan urban life, turns in to an anguish, a vast sense of irremediable loss.

The camera seemed more a burden than a companion for much of it and the words seem the only crutches for support. It may still be impossible to convey but at least it would be a source of catharsis and a means to analyse the chaotic noise in my mind.

Bewildered and haunted through flashes of memories that relive themselves
I sit and ponder and look into the sky
there is no pain greater than been lost in SELF
battling with a STRONG shadow called SADNESS
she stalks and haunts and bring you moments of agony
she comes along with her sister ANGUISH
and they taunt you,
galvanizing and pinpointing your mind to the PAST you left behind




My friends

Posted: July 9, 2017 in Ramblings of an artist

I have two sets of friends.
Those who live in Pakistan, face all problems, want this country to a be liberal progressive and democratic;  free from all types of senseless killings in the name of religion and sects. They are concerned that their children should live and study with peace of mind.
Then I have another set of friends.
Those who left Pakistan many decades ago without intention of coming back. They are well settled,  with their children now in European or American universities. Their children in many cases can’t even speak proper Urdu.
Naturally these friends always seem to be worried about Pakistan.
In discussions when they offer solutions for our problems, they tend to suggest Islamic shariah for this wayward country, stressing the need for some honest but ruthless fanatic to come and enforce it.
Their proclivity to support or justify religious extremism is surprising.
They tend to justify the brutality of militant organisation or show a soft corner for them. I feel their ignorance of ground realities of Pakistan plus a romantic attachment with religion combines to support mayhem caused by religious fanatics. 

Despite all protestations they prescribe a heavy dose of God’s fear for us, praying for some Messiah to push this bitter pill through throats of this poor hapless nation for which they have emotional link.
All this seems funny as I am unable to explain the difference. Does living abroad changes one’s outlook so much?


Posted: June 26, 2017 in Ramblings of an artist

All forms of art aim for self-expression and thus of life itself.  It doesn’t  matter much what the art is. It may be photography, painting, sculpture or writing, ultimately it remains a medium for catharsis and self-expression.

Important thing is to pursue your chosen art with honestly and dedication. It must reflect yourself in it. All else is art for art’s sake: a renouncement of meaning in favor of benign aesthetics, entertainment rather than exploration, obfuscating the self rather than revealing it.

But in the end, all art is expressive, and art that is detached from its creator and from the mysteries of life, expresses the detachment of the age and the culture that celebrates it.


A friend of mine recently asked me where I could find so many interesting characters?

Actually all these people exist around us though in our busy life of a metropolis we don’t seem to notice their existence. It is seeing without looking. 

The fast paced life in a capitalist culture is making us impervious to human life around us. As Albert Camus rightly said, ‘As a remedy to life in society I would suggest the big city. Nowadays, it is the only desert within our means’

My goal is not to document the life, or to capture its thrill to others who may not experience them otherwise. Actually the aim is to share something of my own feelings while roaming in streets. A conscious effort to cross that desert of feelings.

In the words of Charles Baudelaire,  “What strange phenomena we find in a great city, all we need do is stroll about with our eyes open. Life swarms with innocent monsters.”

I have no desire to attract people to the places that inspire me, but to inspire them to seek their own. To seek their own ‘innocent monsters’.




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