Debut exhibition: Zehra Javeri unveils 20 years’ worth of artworks

KARACHI: After painting only for herself for the past 20 years, artist Zehra Laila Javeri has decided to unveil her works.

Javeri’s debut exhibition opened at Canvas Gallery on Tuesday. The collection, titled ‘Weeds’ had been under wraps for nearly 20 years. “The whole experience is overwhelming,” exclaimed a breathless Javeri. “After painting for 20 years, I realised that all the work tied together as a show,” she said, explaining why she suddenly decided to display her work.


The artist’s paintings are predominantly about women since she “feels emotions as a woman” and can relate to them more than men. One painting did, however, have a man in it. Javeri admitted she found it difficult to paint a man. “For women, you use a circular stroke, and as an artist, my hand naturally moves in circular strokes. It was difficult for me to break my natural stroke to paint a man.”

On the use of weeds in several of her paintings, Javeri explained that weeds represent movement to her. “They’re mesmerising and resilient and always in a state of dance and that is reflected in my works.”

 photo ZehraLailaJaveri_zpsca48f8a9.jpg

Sameera Raja, the owner of Canvas Gallery, decided to host Javeri’s works. The gallery hosts exhibitions twice a month with a wide variety that encompasses all genres of art. “Zehra’s art is interesting, it has a different tone and palette,” she claimed. Most of the paintings were done in vibrant, striking colours.

Among the attendees of the exhibition was Marjorie Husain, a noted art critic, who described Javeri’s work as “interesting”. “Zehra’s been painting since childhood and this is the first time she’s showing her work,” Husain said. “I believe her work reflects what she sees around her.”

‘Cosmos’ by Zehra Laila Javeri. PHOTOS COURTESY: CANVAS GALLERY

She has incorporated many global themes into her work, especially regarding gender, said Husain, as she pointed at a painting that was about the Serbian War.

The use of weeds in her paintings has significance to the artist other than movement. Javeri was greatly influenced by her aunt, artist Laila Shahzada. After her death, Javeri began to have dreams about her with “weeds like tentacles for the first time swirling around her like a symphony”. Javeri admitted that she was entranced.  “Right now my studio is completely empty, but I would love to start painting and have another show,” she said. The exhibition will continue at Canvas Gallery until January 30.

Published in The karachiblog, January 23rd, 2014. 

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