KARACHI – Lél, a collaborative space between artisan and designer, revealed its latest collection in the exhibition “The Heart of Stone” at the HSY Mansion in Karachi from 5th till 7th of January 2017. The “Heart of Stone” is a comprehensive showcase of exquisite handcrafted pietra dura works by Lél. Founded by Farhana Asad almost two decades ago; Lél is now run in collaboration with her daughter, Lél’s Creative Director, Meherunnisa Asad.
Curated by Zarmeene Shah, the exhibition straddled both past and present, in keeping with Lél’s ethos and larger vision, coming together within three categories of aesthetic: Heritage, Contempo and Lazhward. Lél through this exhibition showcases its work that is not only involved in the act of preservation of this rare art but also simultaneously plays an integral part in its progression. The ancient art of pietra dura is not only disallowed from being forgotten but is pushed into contemporary evolution.
Speaking at the exhibition “The Heart of Stone”, Meherunnisa Asad, Creative Director at Lél said, “Lél is dedicated to preserving traditional stone inlay techniques and reinterpreting it for the modern connoisseur of art.”
The art of pietra dura, or stone inlay – also referred to as parchinkari in South Asia – originated out of the ancient Roman opus sectile technique, later finding its revival and highest panicle of development in the hands of the Florentines during the Italian Renaissance of the 16th Century. Within the century, pietra dura would find its spread extending to Russia, Iran and across the South Asian region into Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, under the patronage of the Mughals.
Speaking about her journey exploring the art of pietra dura, the founder of Lél Farhana Asad said, “In the early 1980s, I found myself mesmerized by a small box that I found in the antique bazaar in the city of Peshawar. It was this box that would lead me to a master artisan, from whom I would learn the skill of pietra dura, and develop a passion for its preservation, simultaneously viewing it as a bridge between the past and the present, both through the exploration of traditional and modern design, as well as through the artisans from Afghanistan and Peshawar that I would subsequently train.”
Lél’s palette includes a range of semi-precious stones (Onyx, Jasper, Agate, Jade, Serpentine, Sandstone) and colored marble (Mardan pink and Ziarat white) sourced from the mountains of Pakistan. Lapis Lazuli is sourced directly from the Badakhshan province in Afghanistan, Malachite from South Africa and Turquoise from Iran. The palette is a discovery of the natural wonders, which are artistically shaped and customized to create handcrafted pietra dura works.