One may not categorise the art of Aisha Darr, whose complexity of line follows a thought process hovering on emotive disengagement. Creating subtle, organic appearing forms with a ball point pen, the artist is seldom without a drawing pad. This she covers with linear structures produced throughout meetings, journeys and spare moments, often continuing for hours at a time, though she owned her hand tired after a couple of hours.
One lyrical piece pays homage to Meher Afroz, whom she regards as a source of encouragement. Darr does not have a studio, nor does she need space and silence to work, it is an on-going movement. On viewing the work, the word gestalt came to mind; describing a perception that endeavors to turn chaos into order.
Recently mounting her first exhibition at the VM Art Gallery, Darr had titled a few pieces according to the suggestions of an audience. “Someone looked at a particular piece and said that is a tree! So I titled it `Tree’ but that was not my intention.” The subtlety of the artist’s work is intriguing, seemingly sourced by released energy forming a language of gestures: circles, lines, loops and swirls composed of diverse often minute rhythmic strokes. “Not marks, strokes” said Darr, who explained that often when meetings concluded the conversations continued in her head and were expressed in the precise movements of her hand.
Adding diversity to the exhibition, the artist included several larger surfaces stained with tea or coffee and bringing warmth to the work and the interest of gradient colouration. Darr quoted T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock, though while viewing the work, the intriguing disguise of Eliot’s language of the Wasteland came to mind. Included in the exhibition were books re-bound and covered by the artist, who invariably carries books when travelling. The exhibited books had offended Darr’s aesthetic perception, so while away on a week-long project away, she designed the appropriate covers.
Darr studied political science at Bryn Mawr, a women’s college in the USA; then she went on to earn a fine arts degree with a minor in art history from William Smith’s college. There she majored in sculpture and painted large canvases with acrylics in bright colours.
She discovered her singular style when making a postcard for a friend. At that time Darr was involved in her thesis work and described how her professor came to examine her paintings and was intrigued by her ball point worked postcard. He discussed the work with her and told her that is what she should be doing, not acrylics.
Returning to Pakistan, Darr spent five years teaching art history at the Indus Valley School, before deciding to focus further on education. Then followed studies at Oxford where she studied for an M.Sc in Comparative and International Education.
Currently Darr is involved in a programme creating awareness of sustainable environments and climatic changes within communities that have `not been intervened with.’ “We are trying to structure education in non-structured ways, so I feel something is coming out of it.”The artist describes her drawing as therapeutic; it is a part of her life and her concern is how it will evolve, an interesting thought. Presently the work is haunting, offering forms that suggest so much and remain in the mind long after the show is over.