One of the interesting events I went to in 2014 was attending Dreamscape at Amin Gulgee Gallery. A spectacle like no other, the show was an evening of installation and performance art that engaged all the senses.
On a more sombre note, the book launch and memorial for the late Imran Mir (1950-2014), held at his studio house, was a touching and fitting memorial, as his friends and contributors to his book, What You See is What You See, paid tribute to the artist. Upstairs in his light-filled studio with soaring ceilings, his latest paintings and sculptures were displayed. The works were magnificent, their size at first overpowering the viewer, but then gradually drawing one in with the intricate, precise marks.
Karachi saw a number of important exhibitions this year, including RasheedAraeen’s retrospective, Homecoming, comprised of rare drawings and paintings, prints and paintings shown in Pakistan at VM Gallery for the first time.It was wonderful to see the Rasheedagain, as he inaugurated the new wing at the gallery.Risham Syed’s KaalPakhan (Blackingbirding), exhibited herrecent textural and installation works commenting on colonialism and Orientalism at Canvas Gallery, and at Unicorn Gallery, a retrospective of LailaShahzada, an important, and often overlooked modernist abstract artist. Naiza Khan showed works engaging with Karachi’s landscape at Koel Gallery and NusraLatifQureshi’sBiological Remains of an Eighteenth Century Samplerat Chawkandi Art examined the residues and stagnation of ideas in our society.Graduating artists created strong exhibitions this year at the degree shows at Karachi University, Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, and National College of Arts, with students showing greater confidence in new media and a keener grasp of the conceptual knowledge informing their works.
Artists are increasingly recognising the marketing value of high-quality art books with essays and plenty of images, and so exhibitions including RasheedAraeen’s and AdeeluzZafar’s at Gandhara Art Space, of the works produced during his 2014 residency in Cleveland, were accompanied by book launches. Rebel Angel, a handsome volume of the late Amir Butt’s work, features incisive essays from Naiza Khan and NafisaRizvi, among others, and crisp and clean pictures of all of his works.
If 2014 was an important year for art, 2015 should be even bigger. One of the most important art events in the world, the Venice Biennale, is taking place in summer, and for the first time, Indian and Pakistan are hosting official joint exhibition, with Mumbai-based Shilpa Gupta and Lahore-based Rashid Rana sharing a pavilion. This is especially significant because last time Pakistan had an official presence at the Biennale was 1956, and while we seen many private artistic collaborations between the two countries over the years, theyhave not been at a venue of this scale and with this level of exposure.
At home, plans are in the works for a large-scale exhibition that will draw international artists and visitors and bring Pakistani art to a new level of prominence. We should also see an increase in global collaborations, both between individuals and organizations as the number of residencies and exchange programmes between Pakistani and foreign artist grow.
As we did for the first time last year, ArtNow will organise an Art Section at the Karachi Literature Festival in February, with exhibitions, a reading corner, and thought-provoking talks in our continued efforts to bring contemporary art to a wider audience.In addition, ArtNow and Fomma Trust will also be bringing a landmark exhibition of never-seen works by one of the top Pakistani artists to Karachi early in the year. We will be expanding our presence at international art fairs and working more closely with galleries and artists situated abroad and we will enlarge and develop our usual programme of Springboard Series talks and exhibitions and Gallery Trek.
The new year promises to be an exciting one and I am looking forward with anticipation. To our readers, contributors, artists, supporters and everyone else, I would like to offer my best wishes on behalf of the ArtNow team and hope that 2015 is a happy and prosperous one for all.
Bye for NOW.