The Fragrant Garden

A session on mindful contemplation of art with Shahbano Lodhi unveiled at Koel Gallery recently.

The Fragrant Garden explores the ethos of the garden in Southeast Asia, more particularly inspired by the garden descriptions in the poetry and masnavis of Hyderabad Deccan. The curator, also an art critic has referenced the research from Dr Ali Akbar Husain’s book, ‘Scent in the Islamic Garden’ (Oxford, Karachi).

There is a strong desire to merge what is considered craft such as the work of Naqqash Rafaqat Ali, who was commissioned a six feet panel to paint the floral imagery from the Wazir Khan mosque. This work is displayed next to the floral imagery referenced by the miniaturist and studio artist Hamra Abbas.

Hamra has designed a flower similar to UstadRafaqat’s, inspired like the Ustab from the Wazir Khan mosque. Her work is a combination of marble from Jaipur, Italy and Pakistan.

The first gallery is more like an open courtyard or baagh with the sound of a fountain by Arshad Faruqui. The audience is meant to reflect on the poetry of the garden, smell the fragrance of different fragrances of ittar while absorb the imagery and invoking their own imagination and memory of a garden and its fragrance.

The garden proceeds in subsequent rooms as the Jewelled Garden, with jewels and sculptural works as well as tapestries, and culminates in a series of paintings titled, ‘Contractions of the Heart’. So, the viewer moves from a large garden to a garden within. ‘