Central and South Asian Music in Paintings


Adnan Hussain is a filmmaker and artist raised in the US and Pakistan. A childhood of writing stories became a career in animation and visual effects at Walt Disney Feature Animation and Sony Pictures Imageworks in Los Angeles. Besides feature film work, he showcases Pakistani culture in projects through his company, Mad Guru ( www.madguru.com ). His latest project, a show of Central and South Asian music in paintings, is presented by the Levantine Cultural Center’s Inside/Outside Gallery at 5998 W. Pico Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90035, Feb 2-Mar 15, 2013.

The show, entitled “Art of Music,” features 19 original paintings of music from Central and South Asia based on travel through Uyghur China, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan. Three night time events share music and stories of the represented cultures across language barriers through the power of music. The gallery opened on Feb 2 to a packed audience who learned about Kyrgyzstan and Uyghurs from China. Feb 8 is about Uzbekistan and Mongolia with live music by Elephants with Guns. Feb 22 features Pakistan, with screenings of the short film “Gul”, screenings from the Girnari Jogi Group album and a live tabla by Robin Sukhadia.

Hussain’s short animated film “Gul” has played at prestigious film festivals such as Slam Dance, Mill Valley, Patios Human Rights Festival and Tehran International Animation Festival and received the Canada Film Festival Rising Star Award of Excellence and the Accolade Film Award of Merit. The film tells the story of a child’s view of family conflict. The wordless film reaches deep into the subconscious through rich painterly animation scored with raw Sindhi folk music recorded at the Institute of Sindhology in Jamshoro, Sindh. The process of creating the film was as much an adventure as the story it told. The film was recently adapted into a bilingual, Urdu and English language graphic novel for the iPad, available in the iBooks store.

Jogis recorded music to fit the shifting emotions of the story. This collaboration lead to an enduring friendship with Ustad Amb Jogi and his Girnari Jogi Group. Jogis are traditionally snake charmers whose beautiful dhuns on the murli entrance snakes, humans and jinns. Later, this project was used to crowd fund an album, after the Jogis lost their homes to the 2011 floods in Pakistan. The score for “Gul” funded a recording session for a full album, with over 90 contributors who made it possible to pay the Jogi. Adnan took the recordings and did final audio and video mixing for a CD/DVD combo to create new opportunities and provide livelihood to the Jogis.

It is projects like these, Adnan believes, that can help create a cultural presence for Pakistani in new mediums for the world to appreciate. With support for projects through his company Mad Guru, traditional culture can be supported and preserved, while new representations can continue to nurture innovative explorations in art that provoke thought to encourage greater respect and understanding between communities. More information can be found at http://www.madguru.com



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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