ISLAMABAD - Samina Ali Akhtar’s seventh solo exhibition “Odyssey, an Ode to Philosophy” was inaugurated at the Nomad Gallery on Thursday. Inspiration for Ode on Philosophy began with Rabindranath Tagore’s verse ‘In one salutation to thee, my God, let all my senses spread out and touch this world at thy feet. Like a rain cloud of July hung low with its burden of unshed showers, let all my mind bend down at thy door in one salutation to thee.

Let all my songs gather together their diverse strains into a single current and flow to a sea of silence in one salutation to thee’ explained Samina Ali.

Nageen Hyat, the Director/Curator, while briefing about the works of Samina Ali Akhtar said that she is a senior artist with a master degree in Fine Arts from Punjab University. “She creates memories of grand spaces and celebratory processions, Mughal era princes, royal weddings, assemblies, hunts and conquests layered into tapestry of colour, texts and images. The medium of her paintings is mix-media on paper, which is reflecting unique elements on a juxtaposed surface of woodcut, calligraphy, natural dyes, stains, gold and silver leaf - with powerful compositions and fine details,” she said.

This presentation is what makes her art quirky and while the collection may vary in imagery whereby creating contemporary pieces of art, the theme ultimately remains constant. Samina has worked diligently and closely with Nayyar Ali Dada, the well respected & gifted senior architect, during the inception of the Islamabad Serena Hotel as part of the creative design team.   Her artwork was acquired and is exhibited in major areas of the hotel.

Ilona Yusuf, while talking about the works of Samina, said that these deeply personal works are a reflection of Ali’s moods and thoughts, and her innate desire for a sense of peace. She refuses to make statements about herself or her work, asking instead that the viewer find her on the complex surfaces of her oeuvre: “The question is not what I do and why I do it...What I do, search for me and I am there on the paper.” Trained in fine arts with a major in painting and minors in printmaking and the miniature tradition, Samina Ali’s practice evolved to incorporate traditional techniques from the Islamic arts, fusing Vaddri (marbling) and washes along with contemporary collage to create multi-layered works.

These medium to large-scale collages are characterized by assemblages of paper, gold and silver leaf, tea and paint washes, and script. Fascinated by texture, an avid collector of fragments of paper, old photographs, clippings, metal leaf, and even foil wrappings, many of the papers she uses in the elaborate backgrounds are imbued with personal memory.

Cuttings taken from old miniatures are reworked so that they are no longer simply illustrations, but symbolize elements of love, peace, or turmoil, superimposed or inset into the complex surface.  In this way, in the present series paintings of birds by Miskeen (a well-known miniature painter during the reign of Jahangir) are used as symbols of peace and love, as well as evoking a sense of nostalgia.  The artist has many paintings on her credit and her works are on permanent display at State Bank of Pakistan, Lahore, Convention Center, Maldives, and private collections in USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, France, India and Spain.