Lebanon Picture Frame and Fine Art Gallery is very pleased to announce its upcoming July art show, featuring the sublime abstract expressionist paintings of Pakistani artist Ismat Zahra. This event will debut Zahra’s first art exhibit in the US as she makes her introduction into the Central PA art scene. Open to the public, the Artist’s Reception will be held on First Friday, July 6th from 5 – 8PM; the exhibition will be on view through the end of the month.
Hailing from Lahore, the cosmopolitan capital city of the Punjab province, Zahra received her BFA from the College Art and Design Lahore at the University of the Punjab, and in 2011 was awarded a M.Phil in Fine Arts with a thesis topic on the History of Art. In the past, Zahra’s work was mostly comprised of both realistic renderings of landscapes and conceptual art. Her subjects were rural landscapes juxtaposed with the inner city’s brightly colored historical buildings, as well as various social issues. Very recently, however, Zahra made her foray into abstract work with paintings of bold, geometric shapes akin to Cubism. This stylistic change was prompted, in part, by challenges she faced as she recently immigrated with her husband and children to Pennsylvania. Starting a new family while orienting herself in unfamiliar surroundings, she took the changes as an opportunity for a fresh start and focused on exploring a different side of herself. Zahra developed her own unique expression, which enables her to share her personal experiences and worldview with the works’ audience. According to Zahra, “I feel I can express myself better through raw and bold strokes with vibrant colors.”
Zahra’s latest group of paintings in oil and acrylic deal with the journey through love, loss and recovery. Color is prominently featured as it guides the viewer through different stages of grief brought on by the loss of a relationship, a dream or a perceived reality. The stages begin with denial, and feelings of isolation are represented by the use of floral and purple palette. As the denial turns to anger and grief, the stormy shades of red and grey populate the canvas, symbolizing phases of turmoil. The use of black, the culmination of all colors, sets the mood as depression sets in, which stems from the futility of bargaining. And then finally, shades of green transition into yellow, illustrating healing and growth as the pain fades into a distant memory. Even though the subject matter may be difficult to navigate on a conceptual level, Zahra’s use of colors are bold, vibrant, airy and almost joyous. The deliberate strokes, colors and themes are executed in an abstract manner, articulating thoughts and feelings through the visual figures of landscapes or still-life images.