ISLAMABAD - An exhibition of paintings titled "Four Fabulous Fascinations" opens here today (Thursday) at Gallery 6, featuring paintings of four female painters of Islamabad.

The artists Fauzia Minallah, Mubina Zuberi and Sajida Hussain are well established in the art circles of the country while Zohra Amrata Shah is a talented emerging artist.

Fauzia Minallah grew up and took painting classes in Peshawar before moving to Islamabad. Minallah is inspired by folk art and fascinated by the earliest artists of the region. She is an advocate for the conservation of diverse cultural heritage.

Her book 'Chitarkari and Banyans - the Pursuit of Identity' tackles the issue of Pakistan's past that deserves recognition. She expresses her concerns through different ways about the helplessness of nature and history being destroyed in urban expansion.

Minallah said, "For me art is not only manmade found in galleries and museums but it is also out there in nature. In my series Meditative Strokes displayed here, I preserve the beauty of the abundant trees that adds a riot of colours to Islamabad. These trees are the soul of Islamabad and it is painful to see them vanishing in the ongoing mega development projects." She said that as an activist she could protest against the destruction of the green spaces but as a painter her paintings were meant to preserve that beauty.

Mubina Zuberi has been painting since 1970. Her artworks often deal with two very different genres of paintings - one dealing with women and other with abstractions. Her women are neither beautiful glamorous woman nor are they fairy-tale princesses, mythological figures, embodiments of fertility or drawn from the traditional Mughal miniature imagery, rather they are composed by simple drawings that use paints to portray a relationship with a moment or an internal expression or feeling. Zuberi creates the presentation of these emotional feelings by the choice of a pose, posture, angularity, contour, a definite gesture on the faces of these women and her own form of sketching. The effect is further enhanced by her adopted treatment and texture on the canvas. This gives them unyielding and overriding expression.

Interestingly, one large size painting by her shows a very distinct interaction of her two genres - women and abstraction. Commenting on her work Zuberi stated, "My paintings whether they are abstracts or figurative are always about interaction of women with their environment and society and how they react to the social pressures in which they compromise and survive." Sajida Hussain, who did diploma in painting and sculpture from Hunerkada, Islamabad, held her first solo exhibition in Karachi in 2000 and since then she has held 11 solo exhibitions and participated in 15 group shows over a period of 14 years. Her work can be categorised in the school of impressionistic cubical activity, which is based on human and animal figuration.

Hussain's teacher Mansoor Rahi said that she maintained well the integration in formal form and void surface through using soft value and light that created an impact of fantasy.

"I have my own style and my work possesses the ability to transport the viewer to an inner world of imaginations. I absorb various objects from my surroundings and compile them giving shapes and colours to my imagination, views and thoughts," Hussain commented on her works.

Zohra Amarta Shah did her bachelors in fine arts from Indus Valley School of Arts and Architecture, Karachi, in 2012. Her paintings in the show are based on the issue of child abuse, a common occurrence in our society, which is not discussed or given due attention.

The paintings very imaginatively and meticulously reflect both the lusty abusers and children who have suffered and are wounded both physically and emotionally. Her paintings on display narrate two stories. In one the abusers, symbolised by vultures, succeed in their goal and fly away after mutilating the child. While in other, the children seemed well protected by the guardians who fail the attempts of the abusers.

Shah said, "There is a taboo about talking on child abuse in our society. My paintings are a form of social protest, creating public awareness about the issue that might lead to some prevention, as at present, there is no or very limited discussion on this topic."