Nadeem Zuberi

As we believe that the dust is the origin of human being and after death one became dust. Artist Saud Baloch following this belief carved sculptures from clay and fiberglass for his solo exhibition titled "Under the Dust" or "Tah-e-Khaak" at Sanat Gallery, Karachi.

One can feel the gloomy atmosphere of the gallery as the sculptures and drawings by the artist reflected the times of trauma and terror.

The drawings were from the artist's previous series "Life Masks" while the sculptures portrayed dread and hopelessness. The life size sculptures and archival ink drawings were dedicated by the artist to the lost lives in the recent tragedy in Quetta.

"What you see in my drawings and sculptures, what I am trying to communicate, and what is reflected, is peoples' desire to realize their human rights; to live without fear, have a good life, and to benefit from what belongs to them. The discomfort of those who are discriminated against and deprived of such rights, and the pains they endure as they struggle to sustain unbearable burdens, endure and survive, is also ever present," Saud stated.

Balochistan has its unique culture and extreme weather conditions as it is mostly mountainous and desert area. I frequently visit Balochistan and have personally observed the Baloch people's agony and distress. I had first hand experience of their poverty stricken lives and depression caused by this condition. Therefore, I understand Saud's feelings and artworks more precisely.

Although Balochistan is rich in natural resources but it is poor economically. It is the largest province of our country by area but has very low population density. The province is largely underdeveloped. It lags far behind other parts of Pakistan in many development areas like education and infrastructure.

Born in Nushki, Saud Baloch studied Fine Arts at Balochistan National University in Quetta before graduating from the National College of Arts, Lahore, majored in sculpture. As belonging to the roots and living his early life in Balochistan he has first hand knowledge of the tensions, struggles and the imbalance of the area.

The meticulous sculptures first cast in clay and fiberglass then painted to give them a wet look. His sculptures seemed to hint towards the Habib Jalib verses;

"Tum se pahle vo jo ik shakhs yahan takht-nashin tha,Us ko bhi apne khuda hone pe itna hi yaqin tha ... aj soye hain tah-e-khaak na jaane yahan kitne".

("The one before you who graced this throne, Also believed himself an infallible god ... Who knows how many of them sleep under the dust here today.")

A sculpture titled "Dreamer" cast in jesmonite, putty and stone, variable, showed a golden happy face of a baby while the body was wrapped in explosive texture of the volcanic stone representing a childs dream which is always happy and energetic there is no evil in his dreams and he dreams of better future his desires are good and therefore a child must be left with his dreams and adults must not shatter their dreams by violence and fear. Mostly around the world children are agonizing at the hands of adults and they don't know what is happening around them and this fear and panic are shattering their personalities, they one day may stop dreaming in the fear of fear and that will be the end of the world.

The sculptures were in various posters sitting, standing curled up or hanging from the ceiling.

"The materials I use as a means to explore these preoccupations matter greatly, and my interest in exploiting their properties is a thread that connects both the sculptures and the drawings. The clay from which I sculpt my figures makes me think of earth, mud and the origins of life, whereas gold is the colour of hopes and riches," Saud explained.

In drawing he created decaying fragments of human body. The drawing were the attribution of human forms though the figures and faces in the drawings were spooky and ghost like but they depicted the eroded and emptied souls of people of the land at the hands of terrorists. He used different sizes of circles to draw the figures and forms thus giving a continuous effect in his drawing which sometimes appeared tattered and moth-eaten. Just like a web that traps an insect these drawing have trapped the souls in boneless hollow bodies having dust of ages on them. [email protected]