Welcome to the December issue of ArtNow! I am proud to present another strong issue to end the year on, with an apt theme of “Retrospectives” featuring profiles of notable personalities in the art world, , including Salima Hashmi who is an eminent artist, educator, writer and curator. She has been a guiding force in art educational institutes in Pakistan and has continued to encourage the young blood of our nation to strive for greatness. This month she discusses her latest exhibition, ‘ Art For Pakistan: Contemporary artists from Pakistan” which will take place in Milan in October 2018. The show includes both established and emerging artists as well as an award for three upcoming artists selected by a panel of jurors, with a trip to Milan for a residency to be hosted in Poggio Verde Country Villa, and facilitated by Gretchen Crosti. A hearty congratulations to the three winners, Amber Hammad, Mahbub Jokhio, Unum Baber & Matt Kushan, who were announced on November 16th at an event in Museo Diocesano. This will be a fundraising exhibition with all proceeds will be going to The Citizen’s Foundation for the education of underprivileged children in Pakistan.
I would like to begin by extending my heartiest congratulations to Shahzia Sikandar on receiving the KB17 Shahneela and Farhan Faruqui Popular Choice Art Prize, which was one of the two awards offered by the Karachi Biennale Foundation to acknowledge the outstanding works put in by the 160 artists. The winning piece, “Disruption as Rupture” was picked out by the audience through a voting held each day across all 12 venues, the results not much of a surprise to anyone who had the pleasure of viewing the animated video work of the pioneering neo-miniaturist.
It has been an exciting month for art in Pakistan and its diaspora, with a number of notable names making waves within the local as well as international art scene. Abu Dhabi Art took place at the beginning of the month, bringing to its audience a bigger and better art fair that brings art out of the western global context and puts focus on the Middle East. The new director of the fair, Dyala Nusseibeh, put a higher focus on the fair’s public programming and brought in two new curated shows, adding 15 new galleries with a new curated section of galleries, and three commissioned art projects, with the return of the Durub Al Tawaya performance series and Fabrice Bousteau’s street art commissions spread across the city. Pakistan maintained a strong presence at the fair with the exquisite works of Adeel Uz Zafar and Imran Qureshi in their respective signature styles proving to be a dynamic addition to the extensive display of art works.
The art fair is not the only highlight in Abu Dhabi’s art landscape, with the exciting news of the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi eclipsing all other major happenings in the region and putting the capital on the art map. The museum has spent a small fortune to lease the name from the Louvre in Paris for a period of 30 years and will showcase original works borrowed from the Louvre and a number of other French state institutions for a decade, during which it will focus on building its own permanent collection. The futuristic design by Jean Nouvel combines the Islamic architectural sensibilities of the dome with contemporary minimalist sheen, bearing stark formal differences but thematic and conceptual similarities with its Parisian counterpart. The project has been 10 years in the making and sits comfortable within yet removed from the city on the Saadiyat Island, or “Island of Happiness”, which is set to be the city’s cultural centre. The project may have cost a fortune which is perhaps one of the reasons why it is a modern day marvel. The inaugural display featured an extensive display of 600 exhibits, 230 of which were from the museums own collection, while 300 were from French museums, presenting an interesting mix of Western and Eastern art and culture.
November was also host to Dubai Design Week, which allowed visitors to connect with design through various exhibitions, installations, workshops and talks over a 7-day period. From architecture to interior design, product and furniture, the exhibits were a comprehensive view of modernand contemporary design philosophies, spread across a diverse variety of venues in across the city. Meant to provide a platform for Dubai’s exuberant design community, Dubai Design week is owned and managed by the Art Dubai Group and in partnership with Dubai Design District and has been running since its inceotion in 2015.
As the winter winds pick up and the new year looms closer, the art world looks forward to exciting art events in the Pakistani diaspora. We restlessly look forward to two upcoming art events in the region, Art Dubai and the Dhaka Art Summit. Art Dubai remains the leading art fair providing insights into the art of the Middle East , South Asia and North Africa, and is currently in its 12th edition. Set to take place in March of next year, the programming proves to be promising as usual, including the Art Salon, the Abraaj Group Art Prize, The Art Dubai Modern Symposium, and a variety of educational programs, talks, and commissions. As always ArtNow aims to be a dynamic presence at the fair, representing Pakistan within the Global art framework. Dhaka Art Summit is another point of interest for the south Asian art community, providing a non-commercial platform focused on research and discourse. Hosted by the Samdani Art Foundation since 2012, the Summit takes place every two years at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. DAS expands its 2018 programme further by introducing the Samdani Artist-Led Initiatives Forum and the Samdani Architecture Award, both of which are promising endeavors to look forward to. I am happy to see a number of our Pakistani names included in the recently revealed list of participating artists for 2018, such as Khadim Ali, Rasheed Araeen, Shahid Sajjad, Omer Wasim and Saira Shaikh, Ayesha Jataoi, and Lala Rukh.
Our Eastern neighbours bring news of a soon to be launched Sculpture Park featuring contemporary sculptural works my eminent artists. The park is unprecedented in the country and is set to open on the 10th of December at Madhavendra Palace, Nahargarh Fort, Jaipur and is the result of a collaboration between Saat Saath Arts and the Government of Rajasthan, India. Particularly exciting is the inclusion of Pakistani artist Huma Bhaba’s work as part of the park’s sculptural displays.
Other Pakistani artists have also been showing internationally this month. Adeela Suleman and Abdullah M.I. Syed were recently part of a Group show by the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) in partnership with 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney, held at PICA Central Galleries. The show was held in response to the 70th anniversary of the Partition of the Subcontinent, featuring artists from both India and Pakistan “whose evocative practices convey the profound existential unease of our age, either directly or indirectly. They unravel the present time, dealing with the legacy of history, as well as foretelling the future.” Abdullah M.I. Syed is also currently showing his works at the Aicon Gallery under the title “Divine Economy Chapter 1: Structures” in his second major U.S solo exhibition. The exquisite works are a commentary on the relationship between religion, politics and economics, developing a strong visual vocabulary for a conceptual examination of all three.
Waqas Khan recently spoke about his work for the Neon Art Commission “Khushamdeed” across three Galleries in Manchester, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester Museum, and the Whitworth. The talk was in celebration of Michael Flechtner’s exhibition at Neon Workshops and discussed the use of neon in the current art landscape. Another artist talk is due to take place at Manchester Art Gallery by renowned Pakistani sculptor Adeela Suleman about her works examining the complex relationship of our country with violence. Both artists continue to be a strong presence overseas, receiving much deserved critical acclaim in the global art community.
The local art scene seems to be riding the high of the recently concluded KB17, with some exciting shows taking place this past month. Internationally acclaimed artist Hamra Abbas’s latest body of work was on display at the Canvas Gallery in a show titled “Color” exploring “the motifs of interpretation and intervention through the phenomenology of color—color as race, color as gender, color as religion.” V.M Gallery presents an exciting show to celebrate their 30th anniversary with a display of 100 works from their permanent collection that seeks to revere the Masters of Pakistani art, including Anna Molka Ahmed, Bashir Mirza, F.N. Souza, Ismail Gulgee, Jamil Naqsh, Sadequain, and many more. “Remembering the Masters” is a rare look at our history, marking the art trajectory of our nation without the interference of commercialism clouding the pure artistic experience and visual pleasure.
I would like to extend my congrats to International Steel Limited, Canvas Gallery and the artists in residents of the ISL Residency Programme for receiving the Corporate Art Award in Rome out of a panel of large international corporations such as FIAT, Davidoff, Lufthansia, and HBC. The Residency Programme was highly commended by the Italian Minister of Culture and Representatives of the European Parliament and the ISL Representatives were also invited to the Presidential Palace to meet the Italian President, Mr. Sergio Mattarella. The artists in residence included Aamir Habib, Memon Ehsan, Fahim Rao, Mahbub Jokhio, Safdar Ali and Yasser Vayani.
Fomma Trust organized a very successful exhibit at FDAC this month, “The Art of Mental Health” by The Exhibit-Basic Needs Pakistan. It featured an arts and crafts display depicting a journey of people suffering from mental health challenges , their road to recovery and skills and livelihood development. The arts and crafts on display were designed and created by these individuals. Basic Needs Pakistan works to enable sustainable livelihood of communities by combining health and socio-economic solutions with better policy, practice and resource allocation. It was amazing you see visitors from various disciplines attend the show and appreciate the efforts, bringing some amazing energy to the event.
Finally, I would like to commend the work being done by Artisans Galleria, who are lending their support to the artisan community through an entrepreneurial venture that promotes art and craft of South Punjab where 60% of handicrafts are being produced. Their fusion of traditional crafts and modern designs are bringing a refreshing twist to them, providing a much needed revival to local crafts. Support of such initiative is one of the ways in which ArtNow seeks to promote Pakistani art and culture.
Bye for NOW!