Welcome all, to the February 2019 issue of ArtNow, “Lahore and Art”, which will bring the artists of Lahore into the spotlight and discuss in detail the art being produced in the ancient city. Being a cultural palimpsest, the city offers interesting contrasts that have been conducive to art production over the years, with some of the most passionate and talented minds gravitating towards it to hone their skills and base their practices. With the advent of the Lahore Biennale Foundation, it has now become even more of a cultural hub of Pakistan, with art now venturing out into its public spaces and engaging directly with the city. The issue contains exciting profiles on veteran artists Ijaz Ul Hasan and Iqbal Geoffrey.
ADA magazine recently launched the ADA Awards, the inaugural ceremony of which took place on the 19th of January, 2019, covering the span of 2018-2019 in its first cycle. The platform was conceived to honor the talents of creative practitioners in the country working in the fields of architecture, design and art. I would like to congratulate the winners of the various art categories in the first cycle of the awards, Munawar Ali Syed, Sara Mahmood, Sajjad Nawaz, and Safdar Ali, as well as Wardah Shabbir and Muzzamil Ruheel for their honourable mentions. ADA is an architecture, design and art publication that was initiated in 2008 to cater to these creative fields and the dearth of such platforms specifically targeted for them. I wish ADA the best of luck moving forward with this exciting new venture, and even more successful award cycle in the coming years.
The Karachi Biennale recently concluded their first OPP Residency with an open house at the OPP office in Orangi Town and a two day exhibit of the culminating works at Alliance Francaise de Karachi. Curated by Muhammad Zeeshan, the residency was aimed as a response to the gap between the urban artist community and the nuanced geopolitics that surrounds them in Karachi. Four artists, Abid Aslam, Ahsan Javaid, Hasnain Ali and Muneeb Aaqib, were invited to live at OPP for a month, immersing them in the OPP environment. The Karachi Biennale Trust also recently held their first Roundtable of the year, organized by the Karachi Biennale Discursive Committee. The Roundtables are part of a discursive program that aims to contextualize art and highlight its relevance to the larger society. The First Roundtable brought a strong debate on Displacement and Social Ecology and the ways in which geography and cartography can be used to marginalize communities. The issues were understood through the research based practice of Shahana Rajani, with valuable insights from panelists Aquila Ismail, Naziha Ali Syed, and Dr Gul Hassan Kalmatti.
Solo shows by some respectable names in the art community took place this month. Canvas Gallery held two shows, the first of which was by the internationally renowned Risham Syed, whose painting installations in a way recontextualized found objects and gave them new meaning. It was a privilege to view some of these works for the first time in the city. Quddus Mirza, the editor for ArtNow, also opened his solo at Canvas at the end of the month, with some exciting new painting works in his signature minimalist abstract style combining urgent mark making and textual elements to talk about love and fear.
Another 2 exciting solos opened at Koel Gallery this month, the first one by the prolific sculptor Abdul Jabbar Gull. His new series of works brings a similar language into new ideas exploring otherworldly thoughts and impressions. Some familiar elements would be seen amonth fantastical forms seeming to emerge from unknown spaces and times. Natasha Shoro, who also recently launched her latest book at Koel Gallery, opened her solo show a couple of days earlier with her signature abstract paintings responding to elements of nature and searching for herself within them. Her work spoke of breaking boundaries and transcending ideas of race and color to celebrate the human spirit.
Art Citi Gallery recently displayed a series of exquisite watercolors by the prolific artist Moazzam Ali. His depictions of Sindhi rural women renders their exotic beauty in both color and sepia tones presenting an idealized view of local subjects. Internationally, the artist Mark I’Anson opened two bodies of works simultaneously in an exhibition at John Martin Gallery, London, titled “Dolls and Disciples”. Both series of works emerged in the artist’s studio side by side, yet acquire a completely different vocabulary, the dolls being cut out miniature paintings, and the disciples 12 large scale paintings of heads. However, the artist feels that both series at informed by similar concerns, that of social justice in light of the recent past, and its relevance to the present.
A number of thesis shows took place this month, and my congratulations goes out to all the graduating students, including NCA Pindi and Lahore, BNU Master’s program, and Karachi School of Arts. It is always exciting to see fresh ideas take form and innovative and talented young minds take their place in the real world to make a mark. It will be exciting to see where their journey takes them next.
Bye for NOW!