October 23, 2022


Rhythm and balance move at a pace, a regular, rhythmic, circular diurnal movement, light and day, the Earth on a rotation on its axis, Earth around the sun, the outer planets around the Earth and Sun, a pattern as old as time, rather older, a primordial movement embedded into the Living planet and the human’s internal system.

In this system is embedded another pattern, growth, within the seed, the core of life is embedded growth, change, as the seed lies in darkness, dormant and quiet, gathering within itself the forces needed for growth, to sprout out of its shell, out of the darkness of the Earth and stretch out towards the Sun , to the wind and spread out further, intertwining, connecting with growth close to it, stretching changing, maturing, bearing fruit and seed, following the rhythms of the Planet, changing, responding to Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer, changing, curving, growing.

Paradise and other Fairy Tales explores the primordial plane and metamorphosis, the ability to grow and change. The artist Irfan Gul Dahri, an artist who has changed his visual vocabulary to match the evolution of his thoughts and reflections. The current imagery comes from a more personal, primordial place. Using the language of fairy tales, he explores personal themes, yet universal in their adaptation and conception.

Portrayed on his dark layered landscapes are women, lonesome, coupled with animals and nature. Women, empathetic, strong, resilient, sensitive, receptive, creative, their force matched by Nature herself. He creates an internal landscape, inhabited by personal imagery, symbols and meaning. This internal space, being a primordial space, a source of life, a creative force. The images of this space are neither rational nor linear, they occupy a space requiring reflection, exploration and study. This place of interiority opening to an intuitive, subjective exploration. The images contained therein as old as time itself, primal, dark, creative, communicating.

Coming from Shahdadpur, Sindh he brings into his work the connection to land, the expansiveness of open skies, soft dawn to flood the land in light, and as night falls, its inky darkness obliterating the sky from land, as it takes the land into an embrace of soothing enigmatic and mysterious darkness, where silence can only be matched by flowing thoughts and dreams. Land that stretches till horizon, its sturdy presence stirred by the wind that lifts from the ground to the tree tops and rustles over the vast bodies of water that run through to the horizon. The flight of birds and sounds of nature animating over the low din of distant civilization. An expanse in rhythm with the deep patterns of creation.

He brings this lyricism into his work, set in a landscape cloaked in meaning, elevations, hills and mountains set in daylight and nightfall concurrently next to each other, portentous, semi lit skies, land that stretches ominously and silently to the horizon lit with wisps of clouds on silent skies. And to match the quality of land, woman in her creative, enigmatic and empathetic qualities animates the foreground. Portrayed as a mermaid, beings with light fairy style wings, women in communion with nature.


His images bring into question the struggle for survival, a need for acquisition of resource, with man’s deeper desire to live in harmony and balance in his natural environment. In Dillagi, a central figure of woman, outlined with flowing dark brown hair contiguous with a flowing curving dress that spans as foreground that holds a deer as it receives attention and affection from her, and curves further up stretching into a tree trunk and foliage. A comment on her empathetic qualities to connect, nurture and sustain life, matched by Nature that connects, nurtures and holds life. One a living human vessel, the other an enduring presence, both deeply connected to life and creation. Creation and the ability to transmute as embodied in his portrayal Dost, a pair of mermaids flowing deep in water matched by a pair of flowing fish. Above on the surface a laden boat and a happy rubber duckie. The caricature of life, man’s superficial existence in pursuit of resource and in denial of his deeper connection and meaning to existence. The view that denies imagination and the capacity of the mind to stretch its boundaries, examine the unknown, explore nature’s laws and tap into greater potential, as portrayed in Jheel ki Sair. On a deep-set background of hills depicting the diurnal cycle of day concurrently with night, in rhythm with the cosmos, with a foreground of flowing water washing up to a shore. On this a woman, the Feminine, with its capacity to stretch, imagine, interpret noetic realms rides a gliding young elephant. The Feminine’s empathetic, heartfelt quality connecting the noetic to the material realm as portrayed in Dil ki Dunya, where a heart surrounded by a protective circle of the Feminine and a moat gives rise to a magnificent tree reaching up to the sky, it’s branches laden with deep darkness and bright birds and mystical light. The Feminine creative content embodied in both genders that has the capacity for higher understanding, that pierces the veil of limit to higher capacity and potential, the realm where the linear gives way to a deeper rhythm of Universe and gives way to change, transmutation and sublimation.

Set in the realm of interiority, in the realm of self-reflection and examination, he unfolds the internal conflicts in the twin canvases of Ladla and Tanha. Parenthood handed to young adults incapable of dealing with their own lives let alone the young lives of a new generation. And the unwitting play of playing favourites, has not only an immediate effect but a long-lasting impact, especially on growth and development of potential.

Irfan Gul Dahri landscapes unfold the interior plane , a silent unmoving place where man arrives at his true self , a space matched by the dark cosmos ,where potential and Universal laws lie , in this space of interiority man’s true eyes adjusting to the rhythmic pace of creation can see reality, the internal conflicts, that repeat in myriad ways, potential lying in wait for development , a place that he can turn to for integration, rectifying imbalances of past, developing the new and bringing forth a being healed of generational baggage and imbalance capable of addressing his gift and calling .

Asma Ahmad is a freelance writer. All information and facts provided are the sole responsibility of the writer

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