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The main focus of Suleman Aqeel Khilji's works in a solo exhibition titled "Landswept" at Sanat Gallery, Karachi was an escape from situations existing in his mind. He portrayed typical behaviour of people through ordinary common use objects we see daily and do not notice like various colour plastic polythene bags flying in streets and parks when the wind blows reflecting the matters of our society which are just floating here and there according to social storms.

He used everyday objects and common places in his paintings so that he can easily convey his concerns and objectives to the viewers. Set in a vast dusty background the polythene colourful bags in his paintings served as symbols also for our dreams that float around the city like these bags unnoticed and unobserved because in our society dreams are just dreams they may become reality in a few cases otherwise they become invisible for others and remain a dream forever.

The far away mountains and a small settlement of houses, streets and fields in the background depicted the society at a still just present but not activated. The background gave an impression of haunted atmosphere; lifeless without any human activity just dust and wind which help different things fly from one place to another without any purpose.

People nowadays are living their lives without any aim and ambition. This superficial lifestyle is turning our society into ghost society, everybody you see is physically present but mentally they are not that active that they suppose to be.

He talked about the shifting landscape and people in our society, how the people behave, dress and perform has changed during the course of time. According to him to shift a location is deemed as equal to a shift in identity.

"For example, I live in Lahore but would not be recognized as a Lahori there but when I go to Quetta they call me a Lahori. So, I am investigating these shifting identities and the sense of displacement which seems to be connected to land," he elaborated in a conversation with Hajra Haider Karrar.

This concept also applies to refugees who migrated from their home countries to other far away countries where they face identity crisis. Floating for him signifies an act of shifting/state of transition. That's why he wanted to investigate how one can belong to a place.

We see sky in his paintings as sky are always the same wherever you go in any country of the world you can enjoy the sky you were seeing in since your childhood. Many a times the urban changes occurs but mountains also remain the same giving you the sense of belonging that you have came to the place where you once lived.

Some of the paintings showed human figures in an indoor setting. Those were people he came across at different times in his life and got inspired by their nature of work and life. He attracted to these characters and portrayed them for people to see their heroic gesture. One can read the emotions on the faces of his subjects. These were common people we also came across daily but do not notice them. But Suleman Aqeel Khilji being an artist looks at them differently and tried that other people also look them in his way.

He has mainly used pigments and graphite and also selectively used gold in some of the paintings. Almost all the objects that were floating in his paintings cast a distinct shadow of their own thus giving another characteristic to these objects.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2018

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