Rohtang

Shafarin Ghani
Rohtang
Oil on Canvas
141cm x 100cm
2014

Written by Zoey Moo

Set high up in an eastern range of the Himalayas, the Rohtang Pass in India has a reputation for being dangerous due to its rough terrain and weather, in addition to hazards like snowstorms, landslides and avalanches. Despite knowing the risks involved, Shafarin Ghani was entranced by the chance to see the allegedly spectacular views from the Rohtang Pass. He decided to make the journey across the pass – in the freezing winter, no less.

Up in the pass at 3,979 meters above sea level, the very same landscape that enveloped Shafarin was a constant reminder of the sublime beauty of God’s presence; yet at the same time, he couldn’t forget the fact that those could be the last few moments of his life.

The experience left a deep imprint within him, inspiring several works such as Di Imogiri and Antara Langit dan Bumi from the Man and His God solo. As the artwork’s title suggests, Shafarin Ghani’s Rohtang is also based on his experience of being on the Roof of the World.

The deafening silence atop the mountains, the murky darkness of the landscape lit with sparse, tiny lights, the blinding whites of the snowstorm’s waves, and Shafarin’s consciousness of his own mortality – all these are translated into the abstract visuals of Rohtang.

A flash of light piercing the dark hints at tremors of emotion stirring within the soul at the glimpse of something divine, while nuanced shadows leave much to the audience’s imagination, evoking dialogue between them and the painting.

Rohtang’s place in the layout of the exhibition makes it one of the first artworks that the audience encounters upon entering the space. This is not by chance as Shafarin’s painting serves as a fitting prelude for the exhibition; it accurately embodies the full concept and theme of the exhibition, where colours are effectively sensationalised through the implementation of simplistic black and white tones.

In fact, up until this artwork Shafarin has not painted in pure black and white. Nevertheless as Rohtang proves, his expert understanding of colour has enabled him to create an artwork where colour is negligible in connecting with the work’s innate meaning and poignant delicacy.


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