The Manchester Art Gallery is currently exhibiting the first solo show of artist Waqas Khan’s oeuvre. The Pakistani artist’s body of work is conscientious and contemplative, his methodology employs an incalculable number of small dashes and minuscule dots in a laborious process to create large-scale drawings—that can be interpreted as ethereal forms, biological organisms—or perhaps the cosmos. From a distance the works can be perceived as whole shapes, though the closer one gets they discover the meticulous numbered strokes, which communicates a sense of totality, a togetherness and evokes a meditative contemplation.
Khan’s practice is partly guided by Sufism—the selfless experiencing and actualization of the ‘Truth’ through love and devotion. He envisions different paths and tools that can activate a sense of connection between he and his audience and betweens the individuals themselves. These allusions to connectivity and communal harmony are evident in his intricate drawings. They were also integral in the manifestation of ‘Khushamdeed’—three neon installations installed at the Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester Museum and the Whitmore Art Gallery. Specifically created for this exhibition, they invite South Asian and Arabic communities in Manchester to feel more connected within the city’s cultural institutions.
Khan’s exhibition is presented in the context of the New North and South program, which is comprised of a network of eleven arts organisations from across the North of England and South Asia. A three year program of co-commissions, exhibitions and intellectual exchange will take place to celebrate shared heritage across continents highlighting the work of leading Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and UK artists and will include new artistic commissions, exhibitions and performances—in Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool and in Colombo, Dhaka, Lahore, Karachi and Kochi.