“History is like a bed: It’s made, unmade, made again and so on”, writes Ingrid Sischy. This could be said of art history too, which often repeats, but revises itself as well. Each graduate of art produces something new, yet he/she, along with being a unique person, is part of a society. Of all those who nurture on each other, benefit from different practitioners’ views, visions, experiences, successes and failures. Thus, when a spectator sees a painting, a miniature, a sculpture, an installation, a video projection, a digital print, a drawing, he/she is not only gazing at a single work of art, but the outcome of innumerable endeavours in image making, from multiple eras and areas.
At the degree show of an art institute, it is realized that we are heir to human legacy, in art, literature, science, technology and other fields of knowledge and culture. Everything created, conceived and constructed by humankind is our past and part of our heritage. We draw references, seek inspirations, and follow examples beyond the boundaries of land or confines of period.
This diversity, and richness is visible in works at several degree shows in the country. Often dealing with personal problems, physical issues, social concerns, matters of cultural identity, the creations of graduating students usually offer different and diverse points of views. These also reflect our surroundings, and changes occurred due to new modes of communication. Here tradition is explored, and examined, may that be of Mughal miniature painting, European art history, or popular urban culture.
The craft of making, exploration of materials, experiments with technique are normally evident in works presented at degree shows. If one frequents these displays, one finds pieces that remind of violence in our environment, pattern of political power, consumer culture’s hold on private dreams and desires, memory of things lost, body as a vehicle of emotive ideas, landscape being a view of outside and a map of fear. A number of these artworks, executed in multiple media, revert to personal histories: of families, people, places; observations weaved into visuals, which can be connected and associated with everyone. A realization both for the makers of art and its audience; that visual art is not like a language – but is a language, with its distinct grammar, code and meaning.
Every visitor to a degree show converse in this language, and the current issue of Art Now Pakistan is another form of communicating with/about art that heralds and shapes the future vocabulary of art world. Essays by individuals, associated with teaching art and architecture, Interview and Profile of professionals, part of art academia in different positions, and the Retrospective of A. R. Nagori, a painter who taught at the Sindh University for many years – provide various ways of discovering and deciphering the role, importance, and relevance of education in visual art.
Photo-essay also shares moments when a degree show is being realized, so the pictures of process help to understand minds of those who are on the verge of stepping into the sanctity of Art, thus about to merge their individuality in the collectiveness of art, of now, of Pakistan.