Welcome all to the August 2019 issue of ArtNow with the exciting new theme of “Neo Geometry”, looking at Modern and Contemporary artists and art works working with geometrical forms and exploring its visual and conceptual possibilities. The issue includes interviews of German choreographer Isabel Lewis invited by Karachi Biennale Trust and Goethe institute for a performance art workshop and curator and entrepreneur Seher Tareen who’s recently inaugurated museum space, COMO is also being covered in our art spaces section. We also have a retrospective on late artist Imran Mir, another great artist who studied geometry, remembering him on what would have been his 69th birthday in July.
In the run up to KB19 due to make place this October/November, the Karachi Biennale Trust is actively engaging with the art community of Karachi and forming strong linkages with international practitioners. In keeping with the theme of ecology, the Trust recently invited Nele Dechmann, a practicing architect, to conduct a workshop on eco-friendly exhibition design. The aim of KB19 to minimize their carbon footprint will be realized through the exploration of locally sourced and repurposed organic material used for the fabrication of large exhibitions and events such as the Karachi Biennale. Dechmann “makes tailor-made solutions whilst combining different logical systems into a new entity.” She works with local rural communities on architectural projects and conducts research on architectural typologies and their formation. Her dissertation looks at the development of an undeveloped region in Sardinia from scratch into ‘Costa Smeralda’. This project was held in partnership with Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetica and venue partner the NJV School.
Eminent Berlin based Pakistani artist Bani Abidi is currently showing her video and photographic works spanning two decades in a solo exhibition titled “They Died Laughing” at Gropius Bau, Berlin. The title is taken from one of her works “and they died laughing”(2016), which makes us ponder dark truths in her signature language of puns and irony, paying homage to the underdogs, the voiceless and the marginalized. Abidi’s work typically focuses on everyday peculiarities, shedding like on larger more universal realities of oppression and marginalization through microcosmic narratives of fictitious characters. She aptly captures the subtle nuances of hardships, failures, obsessions and constrictions through mimetic metaphors. For this particular exhibition she has also developed a new project “The Lost Procession, commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation where she will be having a solo exhibition in October, curated by Hoor Al-Qasimi and Natasha Ginwala.
Contemporary artist Ali Kazim has recently been invited as artist-in-residence at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Oxford by Gandhara Connections, a project by Classical Art Research Centre set to build upon the network and research on Gandhara Art. As the museums first South Asian resident artist, Kazim will have access to collections spanning more than 5,000 years of cultural and artistic development in Asia with a distinguished collection of objects from the Indian subcontinent (modern India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) to reflect over at the Museum’s Eastern Art department where he will be based. Kazim explores bygone eras through the cultural and artistic remnants of old civilizations, an interest born out of growing up near the ruins of Harappa and developed further at the British Museum and Natural History Museum in London. His delicately detailed paintings and drawings explore these ruins and the broken shards of pottery that lies within with a muted minimalism contemplating the effects of aging and nature through their imprints on historical objects.
In the local art scene, Canvas Gallery opened a solo show with new works by esteemed artist Akram Dost Baloch this month. The artist hails from Nushki, Baluchistan and is an avid believer in preserving, celebrating and taking pride in our culture and heritage. His beautifully textured paintings depicts the faces of local inhabitants from Baluchistan, which are a testament to his quest to represent the indigenous population and their experience, rather than superficially putting a culture on display for commercial gains. This latest show brings a shift in his explorations towards a 3 dimensional vernacular with sculptures executed in wood which take inspiration from the local crafts of his people such as embroidery, dying and weaving, and features cultural motifs that define the local creative spirit. The sculptures morph representative figurative forms with modern abstractions, the unfinished and weathered look of the color stained wood possibly a reflection of the land and people of the artist’s hometown. It is very exciting and refreshing to see an artist connecting with his roots and uplifting local crafts over Western ideals, taking pride in his own heritage and origins.
Bye for NOW!