Artist Farazeh Syed creatively re-imagined that has always been off limits and beyond boundaries for women in our society in her recent exhibition titled "Re-imagining the imagined" at Sanat Gallery, Karachi. Her paintings bring forth a different narrative of reality and tried to break the myths regarding women. Her works showed the liberation of women which they are seeking from various standards set for them in the form of social roles and physical beauty within a patriarchal society.
The stated areas, range and domain are decided for women to follow through their life at various stages of their life and all women are suppose to abide the rules otherwise face wrath of society. Farazeh portrayed women who does not want to live a life like a puppet hence they disobeyed certain rules and regulation of society that are associated with womanhood. She effectively initiated the discussion of women realizing and understanding their real role and enjoys their own space.
She challenged the stereotype standards that women were following for centuries. She wanted women to stop facing what they have been facing incessantly. She gave a message of self discovery for women and therefore captured the strength of women in her paintings. The women in her paintings seemed liberated and at ease with their lives as in her portrait painting titled "In My Own Skin" a woman with a gun in her hand was portrayed symbolically equal to men as using a gun was supposed to be man's type of work. Women are fragile and weak to carry out such manly kind of job. While she stands beside a chair that was a symbol of power and the chair in many houses belong to the men of the family.
Another painting titled "The Other Side of Silence" showed two women sitting on a couch one woman hiding her face behind a mask depicting a symbolic presence of two persons within a single woman. Just because of society constraints and illogical social norms a woman suffers in silence many times throughout her life as there was no one to understand her or listen to her views and feelings about various issues she confronted in life.
She faced hostility and aggression of society whenever she tried to live a life according to her will as a human being. She wanted other people to see her as a person who also has feelings and a point of view. This can easily be understood by a painting titled "A Family Portrait". Interestingly this painting portrayed the role of woman and man in alternate positions as one can see a fair skin man clad in a traditional outfit sitting on a chair holding a baby in his lap while a darker woman wearing western style clothes standing beside the chair which is opposite to our society's set standards of a husband and wife.
Farazeh very smartly revealed the gender roles in our society by just changing the positions of a man and a woman in her painting. And also questioned the right part a person play in life apart from his/her gender. Through her paintings she was trying to find the real identity of women. She was portraying women's perspective of life and society in her works. She discussed what women want from their life independent of patriarchal values. They wanted to live a life with their personal choices not by the guidance of society. They wanted their independence to choose and live. One may think that her paintings showed defiant expressions of women but on the contrary her women figures seemed more confident and asserting their presence in a society almost influential.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2017