Welcome to the May 2018 issue of ArtNow. This month we bring our focus to the concept of geometry in art, its presence as form, as well as its use to connote a multitude of meanings, perceptions and ideas. This exciting issue features profiles of acclaimed artist, Meher Afroz and young miniature artist Wardah Shabbir, as well as a retrospective of legendary minimalist sculptor Rasheed Araeen. Our first ever print version, ‘The Art Newspaper’, special edition, as well as the second edition, are also now uploaded to our website and available for download.
April has been a rather quieter month compared to the eventful welcome to spring with large-scale events happening both locally and internationally. It was a time for a breather, to reorganize and get back to business. Yet it had not been completely uneventful, as we witnessed another first in the Karachi art calendar with the Karachi Art Festival put together by Nigaah Art Magazine. ArtNow’s participation was strong during the course of the festival, ArtNow’s editor Quddus Mirza and myself forming part of the discussions on institutionalization of art and art criticism respectively. ArtNow also took this opportunity to present the ArtNow Lifetime Achievement Award to Marjorie Hussain for her immense contributions to the Pakistani art world over the years. The inaugural event featured art displays in the form of booths set up by various galleries of Karachi, live performances, sculptural displays, live mural painting, and an art discourse program with two days of panel discussions, and is planned as an annual event. A captivating keynote speech was given by the CEO of Dawn Media Group, Hameed Haroon, who provided a riveting account of art in the public domain and the issues it had had to deal with due to the neglect of the authorities and government bodies as well as lack of funds and infrastructure over the years. My congratulations to Tauqeer Muhajir for a successful new venture. Events like these are a necessity for the flourishing art and cultural scene of the city, and the country at large.
Internationally, the World Art Dubai recently concluded its fourth edition at the Dubai World Trade Centre. The fair offers a unique fusion of art, entertainment and education and brings together a growing number of artists, galleries and buyers. It is the largest affordable art fair that isn’t only a testament to the growing popularity and market for affordable contemporary art, but also helps create more interest in contemporary art and encourages its retail within the general public. Apart from the art displays and installation, the fair also included exciting activities for visitors such as live painting, VR art, art talks, creative learning workshops, and live music.
Another important international event, specifically for Pakistani art, was the exhibition “Reflections” which took place at the Asian Art Platform in Singapore. The show brought together major Pakistani artists under one roof for the first time, including masters like Sadequain, Jamil Naqsh, A.S. Rind, A.Q. Arif, Durre Waseem, Saeed Akhtar, and many others. In New York, I look forward to a talk featuring internationally celebrated artist Rasheed Araeen with Kaelen Wilson-Goldie and Kate Fowle at Aicon Gallery happening this month. The talk is in conjunction with the recent solo exhibition “Recent Works” at the gallery and will hopefully shed light on the artists journey into the well overdue institutional and critical acclaim, especially with his participations in the 57th Venice Biennale and Documenta 14 in 2017 in Kassel and Athens and by his recent retrospective at the Van Abbemuseum, Netherlands (2017- 2018). I would urge my readers to also have a look at ArtNow’s retrospective of the artist from the latest issue.
Heartiest congratulations to Amin Gulgee on his solo exhibition titled ‘Seven’ held earlier this month. His magnificent sculptural pieces were displayed at the Amin Gulgee gallery and were part of his most recent oeuvre. Rooted in the fifth verse of the 96th Chapter of the Holy Quran (The Clot), the work was a testament to the initial verses of the chapter which was first revealed to Prophet PBUH, a moment that celebrates knowledge and humility. Along with the sculptures, Gulgee invited the audience to participate in his exhibition by inviting them to leave messages in bottles that were later set to be destroyed. The show will travel to Rome later this year.
“Outsiders – Urban Subcultures in Germany and Pakistan” is an event collaboratively presented by the Goethe-Institut Pakistan and Amin Gulgee Gallery, and is kind of a dialogue between Germany’s “Brilliant Dilletantes” subculture in the 1980s, and a Pakistani response to it. The German exhibition is curated by Mathilde Weh and Leonhard Emmerling and its Pakistani counterpart by Amin Gulgee, Zarmine Shah and Zeerak Ahmed. The Pakistani iteration explores notions of sub/counter-culture in the country, investigating myriad forms of this from the 1970s to present day and “attempts to prompt a series of questions that investigate the idea of counter culture in the Pakistani context, a layered and complex line of enquiry in a country that is marked as just over 70 years old but with a history that extends thousands of years in its regional and socio-political implications.” The exhibit will be contextualized within the international touring exhibition accompanies by live performances, film screenings, and panel discussions. The exhibit ran almost throughout April with screenings and discussions spread throughout with some important artists and musicians from Germany taking part. Not only did it present a critical and comparative study of subcultures in the two countries, but an investigation of the idea of culture itself and the needs for its subversion through alternative forms of art, music, film, television, and theatre to facilitate political protest and social change.
I would like to congratulate artist Sumaira Tazeen and send her warm wishes for her project as the new artist in residence in Kitchener, Canada. Her residency, titled “Sabz Bagh” draws on the metaphor of the greener grass on the other side, and talks about the anxieties of being a newcomer to a country that subvert the initial rosy dreams and expectations one has about starting a life abroad. In this way she aims to represent the immigrant women of the area and to activate and engage the community through her works as well as through a series of workshops to create collaborative needlecrafts and textile works. This will help tell the stories of these women, and the resulting works will be displayed at city hall as well as form part of a video installation at the culminating exhibition.
Vasl Artist Association’s recent travelling exhibition, “Karachi ka Manzarnama” as part of the Azme Naujawan Project reached its conclusion this month with the works displayed at the Faraar Gallery, T2F. The collection of works were reflections on Karachi as an urban space of conflict and violence and was presented at various middle and low income areas of Karachi that have seen their share of violence and lack basic amenities and sound infrastructure. The project was part of an attempt to activate the youth through recently established community centres in the areas and to promote awareness and create dialogue and discussion on important issues plaguing the community so that proactive measures can be established from within. As such, the exhibitions engaged members in the community to help set up the displays and held workshops to develop concepts of creativity, open-mindedness, tolerance through artistic expression.
A two-person show was recently held at O Art Space, last weekend titled ‘Utopian States’. The show consisted of Ahsan Javaid, a graduate from National College of Arts and Jovita Alvares who is the Assistant Editor here at ArtNow Pakistan. Jovita has been with us since graduating from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture and I would like to congratulate her on a wonderful display.
I would like to bring attention to a serious issue in the Pakistani art world. Late sculptor Shahid Sajjad’s workshop has been demolished to make way for a commercial project. The site has been a space for cultural and artistic activity for over fifty years of Pakistani art history and the artistic community is pushing for the Sindh government to protect it and declare it a cultural monument as it can serve as a museum of the pioneering modernist sculptor to inspire generations to come. However, the artist’s family was regretfully recently evicted from their family home, its tiled floor built by the artist himself bulldozed. It is truly a heartbreaking time within our artist community as this untimely demolition has deprived us of a historic space of one of the most influential Pakistani artists of our time.
Bye for NOW!