Welcome to the latest issue of ArtNow! This month we are proud to be celebrating 8 successful years in publication, bringing intelligent debate and critical discourse to our audience covering every aspect of the Pakistani art world and providing a well-rounded and complex look into its practices. The magazine has grown and evolved over the years, using its content to situate the art of Pakistan within a global framework and form linkages with international movements and happenings that can highlight its contextual relevance. We have been able to establish ourselves as an authority and a gateway to the art of the region, and look forward to many more successful years ahead. For the current month we bring our focus to “Sacred Art”, exploring themes of spirituality in art.
Wardah Shabbir’s first international solo show opened this month at Grosvenor Gallery in London, in collaboration with Canvas Gallery, which also recently held her previous solo show. Wardah Shabbir’s work explores ideas of spirituality, life, the hereafter, and following the right path through a fusion of geometry and organic foliage. Many Islamic concepts of gardens and paradise come into play in her visuals which interpret miniature techniques into modern methods. Shabbir is one of the artists being featured in our current issues under Profiles.
Another exciting international show, “Gunjaan”, is taking place at Aicon Art Gallery in New York, with works by artist Ghulam Mohammad. His works are a combination of collage and miniature techniques, cutting out the tiny Urdu script from old books and pasting them layer upon layer to create dense relief-like compositions. Mohammad’s works champion the process of art and are extremely labor intensive and meticulously crafted. Through this meditative process he explores his love of language, and his questions about its origins and evolution over time, using unintelligible explosion of letters to portray its complexity. Mohammad is an internationally renowned artist who was the recipient of the Jameel Art Prize awarded by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London in 2016.
I would like to congratulate Pakistani-American artist Shahzia Sikander for being elected to the Board of Trustees of the Rhode Island School of Design. The RISD announced its newest members this past month, who will each serve a 3 year term and will guide the institution through their invaluable experience as art practitioners. Shahzia Sikander is in internationally renounced contemporary artist hailing from Pakistan, who has made her mark as a pioneer of contemporary miniature which deconstructs and questions the long standing tropes of traditional Indo-Persian miniature painting, while at the same time revitalizing the genre and providing it a legitimate space in contemporary times. Her work takes the form of drawings, animation, video and film, and explores notions of gender, post-coloniality, history, culture, migration and displacement. Her reinvention of this medium has led to an entire movement with more students following in her footsteps, and an illustrious career with her works being shown in solo exhibitions in the most prestigious galleries and museums.
The Imran Mir Art Foundation also announced the winners of the fourth cycle of the Imran Mir Art Prize this month. Due to the overwhelming number of entries, this time around the Foundation has picked 2 winners who will be jointly awarded the prize, and both artists will be given the opportunity for a solo exhibition in 2020 in Karachi. I would like to congratulate Noormah Jamal and Haider Ali Naqvi for being selected as the winners. Both artists pose a critique towards society and bring to the fore marginalized communities with both 2D and 3D mediums. Jamal explores her Pashtun heritage and seeks to challenge its marginalized and stereotyped depictions in oral and written histories. Naqvi examines rapid development in the urban landscape, particularly Karachi, through detailed drawings and archival interventions, he is currently looking at the displacement of long-rooted communities in the city as a result of development, migration and environmental change. The jury for the 2019 award was Natasha Ginwala, Murtaza Vali and Dr. Gemma Sharpe, while Aziz Sohail served as the curatorial advisor.
A new show, “Rehai” opened in Karachi this month at the VM Art Gallery as a collaboration with Roohbaru, a non-profit organization aimed at creating awareness about mental health and provide online consultation. The works on display were focused around this theme, exploring mental illness and the factors that contribute to it. The exhibition featured works by Abdullah Qureshi, Adeel Uz Zafar, Faizan Riedinger, Marium M. Habib, Noormah Jamal, Rabia S. Akhtar and Sohail Zuberi, and included an everyday schedule of activities such as family art therapy, yoga, panel discussions and public talks. The event is meant to create a dialogue on the complexities of identity, as well as provide a safe space for conversations about taboo subjects to take place, so that much needed awareness can be created about the options available for affected individuals.
Bye for NOW!