Visiting artist's works fuse varied techniques

by Jenny Che | 10/10/10 10:00pm

by Douglas Gonzalez and Doug Gonzalez / The Dartmouth

Butt's paintings feature delicately detailed patterns set primarily on earth-toned backdrops, with several making use of tea-stained paper. Her style of repetitive imagery is seen in one piece through the use of objects spinning around a concentric center and in another as endless newspaper-cut text pasted row after row. Innumerable words layer together to form a tapestry of elaborate patterns.

Butt relies on multiple materials to produce her paintings, often incorporating thread, markers and paint to create ornate patterns that are contrasted with less beautiful portrayals of human conflict. Butt uses tracing paper to generate multiple layers of images, adding to the feeling of general chaos as the traditional clashes with the modern.

Butt's emphasis on ornate patterns contrasts with her imperfect approach to the execution of the pieces. Scissor cuts and marker endpoints are visible on a number of her works, furthering the theme of instability.

Several of Butt's works feature women in positions of empowerment. Although they are set against elegant backdrops of Butt's characteristic patterning, the women are fully assertive, appearing in great detail and raising hands or, in one instance, a machine gun. Butt intended the works to celebrate women of courage facing horrendous conditions, according to her biography. With all the unrest in the world, "I had to justify time in the studio. I had to respond to the world outside," she wrote.

Butt's sole physical installation at the exhibit is a work composed of paper, lead and thread. Black, gold and white thread is extended from ceiling to floor in three sets of arcs, and from each string are attached beads and paper cubes dotted with eyes.

A Pakistani artist, Butt was born in Lahore and trained in miniature painting at the National College of Arts in Lahore. She has lived and worked in the U.S. since the mid-1990s and currently resides in Boston.

Butt's works have been featured at the Boston Museum of Fine Art, the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, the Brooklyn Museum and the National Art Gallery in Islamabad, Pakistan. Her current exhibit at the Hopkins Center opened Sept. 28 and will remain on display through Oct. 24.