Like TheOrigin of Species, perhaps the art world is lacking a book titled The Origin of Art, because from the dark caves of prehistory to secluded enclaves of our psyche, the emergence of art remains a mystery – needs to be explored, examined and expressed.
There have been efforts and attempts to study the phenomenon of art, its beginning in history and its early glimpses in a child, but like Art, its perception, practice and theory keep on altering with the change of times. In fact tracing and writing of history is more about realizing, analysing and contextualizing the practices of present, thus in every period a new version of political, religious and cultural history is cast.
But apart from organizations, groups and intellectual bodies that are responsible for documenting history and rearranging past, the matter of art’s origin is crucial for a creative person, because while dealing with the issues of images, forms and subjects, an artist has an another concern, to place his work in the frame of his times. How all that is produced in the solitude of studio will be seen in relation to ever-increasing boundaries of art and perpetually expanding definition of art. All that indicatesreasons and factors, which convert a human being into an artist, or transform a man’s productions into art.
These ideas are essential for an artist, because interestingly, a word that haunts every creative person (especially since the age of Modernism), originality, is connected to origin, even though the connotation of both terms is different in our context today. It is demanded from an artist that he must make an object that is unique, new and different – in comparison to everything else produced before him; only then his creations be qualified as originals. Whereas the meaning of origin connects to a lineage with its impact, influence and ingredients on latter day examples of art making.
All that reminds of the relevance of identity in art and life. How the identity – or identities are forged on the basis of ancestors – both real and imaginary. Often the ancestors and origins are carved to combat a personal problem or the difficulty of dealing with the Other. This happens not only to a single individual, but it can also be witnessed in societies in which revival tendencies are in vogue, so the return to origin can be a means to encounter the challenges of contemporary.
These debates, discourses and doubts are significant not for fabricating art, but for formulating systems of thoughts on it – through language. Hence our essayists in the present issue of Art Now Pakistan have approached these by citing specific cases. Adnan Madani analyses the notion of origin in relation of a painter’s practice, whereas UsmanSaeed focuses on the history of photography to illustrate the theme. A similar approach is visible in the photo-essay too.
Along with the interview of IftikharDadi, profile of Amin Gulgee, exhibition reviews and book review, the Art Now Pakistan seeks to present a view on art and related ideas, which are not bound to one time or place, much like origins, which spill over centuries and countries.