Established sculptor and teacher at Indus Valley School of Art, Jabbar Gull opted to put up an exhibition of paintings at Canvas Gallery instead of his customary wooden sculptures. Titled Ordinary Souls, the show was a collection of figurative compositions in oil on canvas with a strong emphasis on a puritanical demeanour. The artist remarked that his main sources of inspiration were “Humanity, spiritual beliefs and politics.”

Jabber Gull is interested in portraying the average human being as they exist individually and as family members, friends and citizens. He says

I am one of them so I endeavour to express their common sufferings, grief, and relationships on individual and collective levels.

Very particular about his portrayal, he has painted that segment of society where the Islamic dress code is strictly observed. The women are modestly clad in loose long-sleeve tunics with their heads covered in headscarves or hijab as per Islamic injunctions. Similarly the men either sport cleanshaven heads, wearing round-collared shirwanis or kurtas or wear skullcaps and are fully bearded like mullahs. Simple, sober and serious, his ordinary souls may well be subjects of Madressahs or seminaries, so uniformly chaste are they in dress and appearance. Moreover, most of the paintings are in severe grays, black and white with only just some works breaking into colour. This lack of colour also adds to the total effect of sobriety and conformity to a code of ethics.

The artist deserves credit for venturing to paint this aspect of our society. It pertains to a very real and widely prevalent attitude and belief system and apart from the cultural and religious angles, it also has political connotations these days. Today as the Muslim belief system is being falsely interpreted as extremist and fundamentalist in the West, artists should bring up these issues in their paintings.