Welcome to the January 2019 issue of ArtNow, and a Happy New Year to all our readers! It has been an exciting year for art, and I would like to join my readers in looking forward to an even more eventful 2019 for the Pakistani art community at home and in the diaspora. The current issue brings its focus on Degree Shows, which took place all over the country this month as the latest crop of talent graduated and stepped into the arena with fresh ideas and perspectives. Please read through the exciting profile of artist Rashid Rana and an interview of Adeel Uz Zafar, both are internationally acclaimed prolific artists and art educators.
The 4th Kochi Muziris Biennale kicked off this month in Kerala, India, with director Bose Krishnamachari and curator Anita Dube at the helm. With 94 participants from over 30 countries and more than 100 projects in heritage properties, public spaces, and galleries across Fort Kochi, Mattancherry, and Ernakulam, it is one of the most dynamic and socially charged experiences in the region. According to Dube, “from the conceptual level, to the embodied experience of the Biennale visitor, Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life attempts to offer a platform that operates through radical openness. The exhibition – whose didactic model is complicated and liberated by a collaborative space called the Pavilion – is energized by the interactions between works, the dialogue sparked between artistic voices and practices. The audience is invited to share, to listen, and even to challenge the space.” This edition of the biennale also introduces an innovative element in the form of the infra-projects, which are independently curated within Dube’s thematic framework and open up exciting and diverse possibilities. These include Edible Archives curated by Anumitra Ghosh Dastidar and Prima Kurien, Sister Library by Aqui Thami, Srinagar Biennale by Veer Munshi, and a project by Durgabai Vyam + Subhash Vyam.
The Karachi Biennale Foundation in collaboration with the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) recently announced the OPP First Residency participants, which include Ahsan Javaid, Abid Aslam, Hasnain Ali, and Muneeb Aqib. The residency, which is curated by the KB19 curator Muhammad Zeeshan, went underway from the 21st of December, 2018 and will continue till 21st of January 2019. The focus of the first residency is on cartography, as part of which the artists will learn the rare and valuable skill of map-making from experts, as mapping is the legacy of Parveen Rahman, who was a social activist and director of OPP, through which she empowered the local communities to chart the land and thereby recognize and exercise their rights to its ownership.
As we enter into 2019, the Lahore Biennale Foundation is also making headway into its preparations for the 2nd edition of the biennale. Recently the Lahore Biennale Foundation (LBF) announced the appointment of Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, as Curator for the second edition of the Lahore Biennale. Research is underway on identifying components to be included in LB02. In terms of LBF public programming, the mentor-mentee for each of the three grants comprising the LBF Research Unit initiative will share their findings in symposium, scheduled for March 2019. Beginning January 2019, LBF will resume its artSPEAK series which provides a public platform for critical discourse on diverse topics of interest to creative practitioners.”
The International Public Art Festival being organized by I AM Karachi is scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2019, but the very first project as part of the even has already been inaugurated this month. This large scale mural is the creation of renowned Italian muralist, Giuseppe Percivati, and covers the façade of the GSA House Building in Karachi. It is the first of its kind with a scale of 2300 sq. ft. and is a tribute to the people of Karachi, not only beautifying the city but exposing its people to public art and its value. The project is a joint effort of Consulate General of Italy, Karachi Port Trust, I Am Karachi, GSA House and Berger Paints Ltd.
The Goethe Institut Pakistan recently held a concert with some unusual experimental music. Niels Klein and his quartet of Tubes and Wires with Lars Duppler (Rhodes, Synthesizers), Hanno Busch (Guitar, Bass) and Ralf Gessler (Drums) played jazzy instrumental tunes inspired by space and science fiction that were mesmerizing. The music was meant to create an atmosphere and stir certain feelings in the audience, and the numbers were responding to examples from pop culture. Held at Napa, the concert ended with performances by the faculty and students of the institute who played the raga Pilu led by Nafees Ahmed on sitar.
A number of prominent shows also took place locally this month. “From the Hills to the Sea” was an ambitious project curated by Saba Khan and Seher Naveed at the AAN Gandhara Art-Space in collaboration with the Murree Museum Residency. It was spectacular with a large ensemble of artists exhibiting their works, the show explores the spaces that artists need to create works and the works that emerge when they venture into new spaces beyond their comfort zones. “Glory of the Garden” was a solo show by David Alesworth, with a display of his large scale embroidered carpets and his archival explorations of horticulture and man’s interactions with nature. Hues of Diversity was another exciting show, an international watercolor exhibition organized by Art Citi Gallery at Beach Luxury Hotel.
The Jamil Naqsh Museum recently inaugurated an impressive exhibition of paintings by the brilliant artist Jamil Naqsh, “The Fisher Woman of my Mohenjo-daro”. The paintings take inspiration from the Indus Valley Civilization and the rich culture and history of the Sindh region. The artist reimagines the famous artefact of the dancing girl of Mohenjo-daro as a fisher woman, as she was discovered in the riverside settlement. The paintings also feature various other images and symbols inspired from the region such as the fish and the bull, along with Naqsh’s women in his signature style. The program was inaugurated by President Arif Alvi who expressed his admiration for the promotion of the rich heritage of Pakistan in the global art community through prolific artists like Jamil Naqsh. Indeed, the reclusive artist, now residing in London, has earned international fame along-with the “Pride of Performance” award in 1989 and the “Sitara-e-Imtiaz” Award in 2009, and only last year a private museum dedicated to his art was inaugurated. His textured surfaces, vibrant palette and unique style result in dynamic visuals that are specific to his oeuvre. A very nicely bound catalogue of his paintings, edited by Quddus Mirza, was also launched on this occasion, and provided an intriguing look into the artist and his works
Bye for NOW!