Welcome readers, to the December 2018 issue of ArtNow, “Connecting Flights”, where we are focusing on the artists populating Pakistan’s rich diaspora. This issue examines the ideas of displacement, both physical and psychological, that emerges as a result of moving away from one’s place of birth, and the ways in which the arts can provide avenues to negotiate ones identity through excavations of personal histories, memories and culture. I am happy to introduce our guest editor for the month, Amna Naqvi, a collector and philanthropist based in Hong Kong and a tireless supporter of Pakistani art through the AAN Foundation and the AAN Gandhara Art-Space. The issue also contains interview and profile of artists Faiza Butt and Nustra Latif Qureshi, and a Photo Essay by Lali Khalid.
I am particularly pleased by our coverage of important international exhibitions this month. “Art for Education: Contemporary Artists of Pakistan”, curated by Salima Hashmi, a renowned Pakistani activist and art critic, and the Italian-Australian critic and writer Rosa Maria Falvo, is a collaboration between The Italian Friends of The Citizens Foundation and Museo Diocesano Carlo Maria Martini. The exhibition brought Pakistani contemporary art to the fore and promoted a positive image of the country and its contemporary society, and helped TCF schools. Sixty Pakistani artists exhibited their works. Another important exhibition being covered is “The Picasso Metamorfosi (Picasso Metamorphosis)” at the Palazzo Reale in Milan, which showcases 200 works, including works by Picasso and ancient works of art, highlighting the artist’s relationship with myth and antiquity.
As the end of 2018 approaches, a couple of regional art fairs have recently concluded, particularly in the UAE. Abu Dhabi Art Fair’s yearlong programming culminated in November in its week long display of art by galleries from all over the world. Currently celebrating its 10th year, the fair seeks to go beyond just the display and sale of art and looks to create a larger dialogue that activates and engages the wider community. Particularly exciting for Pakistan is Imran Qureshi’s multiple installation project, “Gardens and Beyond” for BEYOND: Artist Commissions 2018 at Al Ain Oais and Al Jahli Fort, Al Ain. Dubai Design Week also took place this month, which was designed by Architecture + Other Things who made use of natural and recyclable synthetic materials this year for the annually re-modelled exhibition. This large-scale design exhibit consisted of dedicated pavilions, representing design experiences drawn from communities in the Middle East; Amman, Beirut, Dubai, Eastern Provinces of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait City.
Pakistani artists have also been widely represented in exhibitions all over the world. “Within/Without”,curated by Krittika Sharma and Saira Ansari, took place at Asia House, London. Presented by Indigo + Madder, a London-based art platform that has a special focus on contemporary art from South Asia and its diaspora, the exhibition features 15 interdisciplinary artists, a number of whom are from Pakistan, who have contemplated the themes and notions of space and place. Another group exhibition, “The Perfect Gentleman” curated by Zahra Khan is due to open this month. A project of Art Divvy and Rossi and Rossi, the exhibition features five Pakistani artists and will take place at Rossi and Rossi in London. A couple of solo exhibition are also taking place by Waqas Khan and Muzammil Ruheel. Khan brings his usual meditative mark making in “History, Memory or Geometry” at Gallerie Krinzinger in Vienna, which opened in September. Ruheel’s first solo show at TARQ gallery in Mumbai, “Baaton se baat nikalti hai” is set to open early this month, and brings his signature abstraction of Urdu calligraphy used as metaphor to speak of larger conceptual concerns. In this particular show he focuses on conversations and the way in which stories are written, presented, understood and misunderstood.
Irfan Hassan’s phenomenal work “The Musician” won the Emerging Artist Award at the 2018 Asian Art in London, a globally recognized annual event dedicated to promoting its participating dealers and auction houses through a series of selling exhibitions, auctions, symposia and lectures taking place over ten days in November. My heartiest congratulations also go out to the Art Jameel Foundation, which recently inaugurated the Jameel Arts Centre in Dubai. It is one of the first contemporary arts institutions in Dubai, dedicated to exhibition making and research, with an extensive education program for all ages. It is also a great pleasure to hear that Vasl publications will now be available at the Jameel Arts Centre library and bookstore. I also congratulate Vasl and its winners for the public art project, Loud Speaker, Natasha Jozi, Noman Siddiqui, Sibt E Hassan Azad and Zambeel Dramatic Readings, who will be displaying their projects between November and March. I look forward to their work. Lastly, I wish ArtKaam a very Happy 1st Anniversary and congratulate them on a very successful first year in operation. Look out for the review of their anniversary show in our latest issue.
The Karachi Biennale Foundation also announced the Emerging Artist Prize for KB19, which seeks to support and encourage young talent through such opportunities for professional growth. The prize is open to all contemporary Pakistani artists under 30 currently active as professional artists and is now accepting applications till the 20th of December 2018. It is a wonderful opportunity for all young artists for maximum exposure and recognition in their budding career.
I am excited to announce that Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Founding Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, has been appointed Curator of the second Lahore Biennale (LB02), opening in early 2020 and on view across the city of Lahore, Pakistan. Director of the Sharjah Biennial since 2002 and President of the International Biennial Association, Hoor is sure to bring her extensive expertise to LB02, which will feature new commissions, large-scale installations and multiple discursive. The inaugural Lahore Biennale (LB01), held in March 2018, showcased over 100 artworks in some of Lahore’s major venues and saw the participation of various artists and scholars from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. For LB02, the Biennial will extend its regional scope to West Asia and the Middle East.
A couple of local exhibitions this month have also been exciting highlights on the art calendar. Goethe Institute recently brought an exhibition of German impressionist painter and printmaker from the 1920s, Otto Dix, to VM Art Gallery. The show featured some 86 prints by the artist encapsulating post First World War Germany, critiquing its social structures and the brutality of war. Read ArtNow’s full coverage of the exhibition for a more in-depth analysis of the artists’ life and work. Another show took place at Alliance Francaise de Karachi, “No Filter”, which opened mid-November with some performance works. Curated by Pomme Amina Gohar and sponsored by Fujifilm, the show featured a star studded list of photographers, sculptors, painters and performance artists.
Bye for NOW!