Subscribe

Text | Iftikhar Dadi

Visual | Courtesy Various

Issue 39

An earlier version of this article was originally published in the Herald’s August special issue celebrating 70 years of Pakistan The writer is an Associate Professor in Cornell University’s Department of History of Art.

This essay must start with a qualification: it offers only a selective overview of developments in modern and contemporary art in Pakistan. Here, the term ‘modern’ is used for the art produced between the middle of the 20th century and the beginning of 1990s; afar that ‘contemporary’ art comes into vogue. Modernism largely avoids engagement with the immediate and the present. Rather than focusing on specific social circumstances or engaging with current events, modern art offers metaphoric and transcendent alternatives to the real world. Its materials and mediums seek permanence. By contrast, contemporary art is immersed in the immediate and the present. Unlike modernism, it offers no transcendence but instead engages with existing conditions. It is often ‘post medium’ as ‘contemporary’ artists usually employ diverse materials and techniques that include ephemeral and time-based mediums.

Abdur Rahman Chughtai (1894–1975) enjoyed a long and productive career and stands out as the first prominent modern Indian Muslim artist. He studied at the Mayo School of Art in Lahore circa 1911 and began painting early in his life. He forged a distinctive style and grounded his art in the ideas of Urdu writers and poets. By the 1920s, under the infuence of poet Muhammad Iqbal’s pan-Islamic ideas, he started basing his paintings on consciously Islamic and Mughal aesthetics. His influential publication – Muraqqa’-i Chughtai (published in 1928) that illustrates the poetry of Mirza Ghalib – marks this shift. Chughtai and Iqbal possessed a cosmopolitan Muslim imagination during the first half of the 20th century when independent nation states in South Asia and much of the Middle East had not yet materialised. But while Iqbal’s later poetry and philosophy is characterized by dynamism, Chughtai’s artistic ethos is marked by introspective stasis. His early paintings are set outdoors or in simple architectural frames, illustrating Hindu mythological figures. By contrast, his later paintings are set in arabesque interiors in which female fgures are covered in elaborate, stylized layers of clothing. These paintings are not based on a particular narrative but create an aesthetic universe akin to the one conjured by classical Urdu ghazal. Chughtai was over 50 years old in 1947 but, while he remained an admired figure, he had no prominent disciples in the newly created Pakistan who would follow in his artistic footsteps. Pakistani art needed a new formal language that could better express the challenges of mid-century modernity and decolonization. For a fully modernist artistic practice to emerge, Pakistan also needed a restructuring of its art schools and exhibition venues since a large number of art teachers, students and curators had lef for India after Partition.

At the time of its creation, the country faced a difficult landscape for fine arts. Even Lahore – that at the time had two schools for art instruction, the Mayo School of Art and the Department of Fine Arts at the Punjab University – was in a poor shape because of the departure of many art instructors and students. Karachi virtually had no art scene before 1947 and there was not a single art school in East Pakistan. Key institutional developments took place over the next two decades. The Mayo School of Art was upgraded to the National College of Arts (NCA) in 1958, a move that facilitated a greater focus on the teaching of modern art. During the tenure of Shakir Ali (1916–1975) – first as an instructor in painting from 1952 to 1961 and then as principal from 1961 to 1969 – NCA became an incubator of modernism in West Pakistan. At the Punjab University, expressionist painter Anna Molka Ahmed (1917–1995) became the head of the Department of Fine Arts and held the post for many years, organizing numerous exhibitions during the 1950s and publishing many catalogues on emerging artists.

In Dhaka, Zainul Abedin (1914–1976) founded the influential Institute of Fine Arts in 1948. Artistic societies and arts councils emerged in many cities. These included the Arts Council in Karachi, the Alhamra Arts Council in Lahore and the Gallery of Contemporary Art in Rawalpindi that artist Zubeida Agha (1922–1997) headed for 16 years beginning in 1961. When scholar and historian Aziz Ahmad skills which he judiciously exercised to promote art and crafts in both wings of the country. After Bangladesh’s independence in 1971, he came to be regarded as the founding figure of modern Bangladeshi art. His practice was divided between modernist experimentation and depiction of folk and tribal elements in East Bengal’s culture. As Badruddin Jahangir has pointed out, Zainul Abedin avoided painting “pictures of Muslim glory” like Chughtai did. He, instead, portrayed peasants and bulls from rural Bengal. Human beings and animals in his work appear as laboring bodies and heroic figures engaged in struggle. He also recognized the need to create a rooted modern high culture because the Bengali bhadralok (middle class) high culture of those times was seen as Hindu culture and was thus disapproved of by the West Pakistani ideologues. He argued for and practiced a “Bengali modernism” based on folk themes, abstracting them into motifs characterized by rhythm and arrangement of colour and pattern. Other artists from East Pakistan active during 1950s and 1960s include Quamrul Hassan (1921-1988), SM Sultan (1923–1994), Hamidur Rahman (1928–1988), Mohammad Kibria (1929-2011), Aminul Islam (1931-2011) and the pioneering modernist sculptor Novera Ahmed (1939-2015). A lively artistic exchange then flourished between the eastern and western wing of the country despite political tensions. Exhibitions in one wing featured works from the other wing and artists travelled frequently between the two parts of Pakistan.

Zubeida Agha’s solo exhibition of provocative “ultra-modern” paintings in 1949 “fired the first shot”, as noted a critic who marked it as a key event in the emergence of modernism in the country. She was Pakistan’s first properly modernist painter. Her enlightened family had encouraged her early interest in art in the 1940s. She was deeply struck by the modernist painter Amrita Sher-Gil (1913–1941) who had died young in Lahore and whose unconventional life and art have become the stuff of legend. Apart from her work as the director of Rawalpindi’s Gallery of Contemporary Art, Zubeida Agha was involved in discussions and plans for setting up a national art gallery and a national art collection.

Zainul Abedin, one of the best-known artists at the birth of Pakistan, played a key role in promoting art across the country, especially in East Pakistan. He studied painting at the Government School of Art in Calcutta from 1933 to 1938 and then taught there until 1947 before moving to Dhaka. His work first attracted public attention in 1943 when he produced a powerful series of drawings on the famine in Bengal. As the founder principal of Dhaka’s Institute of Fine Arts, he soon turned it into the best art school in Pakistan. Not only was his art practice exemplary for his students, he was also respected for his administrative skills which he judiciously exercised to promote art and crafts in both wings of the country. After Bangladesh’s independence in 1971, he came to be regarded as the founding figure of modern Bangladeshi art.

His practice was divided between modernist experimentation and depiction of folk and tribal elements in East Bengal’s culture. As Badruddin Jahangir has pointed out, Zainul Abedin avoided painting “pictures of Muslim glory” like Chughtai did. He, instead, portrayed peasants and bulls from rural Bengal. Human beings and animals in his work appear as laboring bodies and heroic figures engaged in struggle. He also recognized the need to create a rooted modern high culture because the Bengali bhadralok (middle class) high culture of those times was seen as Hindu culture and was thus disapproved of by the West Pakistani ideologues. He argued for and practiced a “Bengali modernism” based on folk themes, abstracting them into motifs characterised by rhythm and arrangement of color and pattern. Other artists from East Pakistan active during 1950s and 1960s include Quamrul Hassan (1921-1988), SM Sultan (1923–1994), Hamidur Rahman (1928–1988), Mohammad Kibria (1929-2011), Aminul Islam (1931-2011) and the pioneering modernist sculptor Novera Ahmed (1939-2015). A lively artistic exchange then fourished between the eastern and western wing of the country despite political tensions. Exhibitions in one wing featured works from the other wing and artists travelled frequently between the two parts of Pakistan.

Shakir Ali’s modernism was restrained and disciplined. He focused his work on exploring form and composition rather than on narrative and drama. Birds, cages, moon and flowers became symbols in his paintings for human finitude and its transcendence through imagination. He remained immune to jingoistic motivations as is clear from his refusal to assume a nationalist stance during the 1965 war between India and Pakistan. Indeed, the lives of Zubeida Agha, Shakir Ali and many key artists of the generation that followed them, including that of Zahoor ul Akhlaq, are marked by an enigmatic silence on many issues of public importance. Their works were giving shape to an artistic project aimed at exploring visual allegories for ethical and social dilemmas more deeply than was possible through public debate in that era.

During the 1960s and 1970s, calligraphic modernism formed an increasingly influential mode of expression though Hanif Ramay (1930–2006) had started reformulating calligraphy to express abstract ideas as early as the 1950s. Iqbal Geoffrey (born in 1939) developed an expressionist calligraphic practice, accompanied by a playful Dadaist performative persona, during his stay in the United Kingdom and the United States in the 1960s. Anwar Jalal Shemza, who was also a noted Urdu writer, moved to the United Kingdom during the mid-1950s and developed an important body of abstract calligraphic work. Inspired by Swiss-German artist Paul Klee, Arabic calligraphy and carpet designs – his family had earlier been involved in the carpet business – he worked out his aesthetic mode of expression over the course of a disciplined career. His Roots series, executed in the mid-1980s towards the end of his life, exhibits remarkable formal restraint as it expresses the anguish of an expatriate. Jamil Naqsh (born in 1938 and now based in London) has also created numerous abstract calligraphic paintings apart from his signature figurative oeuvre.

But the greatest practitioner of calligraphic modernism is Pakistan’s most celebrated artist Sadequain (1930–1987). His rise to extraordinary fame commenced in 1955 when he exhibited his works in Karachi with the support of Prime Minister Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, a liberal patron of arts. Sadequain soon received many prestigious government commissions. A large number of murals he executed between 1957 and his death have reinforced his myth as a suffering, but heroic artist. His gigantic 1967 mural at Mangla Dam, titled The Saga of Labour, is based on Iqbal’s poetry and celebrates humanity’s progress through labor and modernization.

During a residency at Gadani near Karachi in the late 1950s, Sadequain encountered large cactus plants whose vertical, leafless and prickly branches formed silhouettes suggestive of calligraphic forms. He subsequently moved towards an imagery that contained exaggerated linear features drawn like cactus plants. His self-portraits and murals evoke a sense of movement and dynamism that mark his most significant works of the late 1960s, including his 1968 paintings based on Ghalib’s poetry. His residence in Paris during the 1960s was also formative in his artistic development. A 1966 series of drawings he made in France depicts him in his studio with his severed head and in the company of female figures. The drawings associate Sadequain with transgressive Sufis such as Sarmad (whose head was cut of on the order of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1661) and with Picasso’s drawings and prints from 1930s on the mythos of the artist and the model.

Sadequain charted a unique artistic trajectory. He remained close to the state that promoted calligraphy during the Islamisation of the 1970s and 1980s yet he exhibited aspects of transgressive Sufism through his persona. His star status also allowed him to address an audience wider than the urban elites. As Lahore-based artist Ijaz ul Hassan (born in 1940) has aptly noted: “[Sadequain] never hesitated to glorify the inherent strength and creative spirit of man, and his ability to build a better world … [He] was the first to have liberated painting from private homes and transformed it into a public art … ”

Other modernists have also broken new ground. Rasheed Araeen, who was born in Karachi in 1935 but moved to London in 1964, has been producing art based on constructivism and geometry while at the same time being active against racism and inequality. Race and inequality have formal value as well as social significance in his art. In 1987, he founded and began editing Third Text, a journal that offers an important global critical platform for writings on modern and contemporary art. In recent years, he has engaged more closely with artistic and intellectual developments in Pakistan.

Karachi-based artist Shahid Sajjad (1936-2014) was a pioneer sculptor in carved wood and cast metal. His work continues to influence subsequent practitioners of these genres across Pakistan. A R Nagori (1939-2011), who taught art at the Sindh University, Jamshoro, addressed marginalization and inequality in expressionist paintings that depict symbolic facets of aboriginal communities in Sindh and the surreal excesses of General Ziaul Haq’s regime. Zahoor ul Akhlaq created drawings, paintings and sculpture that have left deep and formative impacts on numerous artists working today. And Imran Mir (1950-2014) was one of the first few to systematically investigate geometric forms in painting and sculpture. Many of the latter-day modernists were still actively producing art during the 1990s even though modernism had begun to transition to contemporary art by then.

Contemporary art practices emerged in the context of specific political, economic and global developments: the rise of Islamist politics since the mid-1970s, the emergence of feminist activism during the 1980s, the restoration of an unstable democracy (in 1988-1999), the privatization of state – owned businesses under direction from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, the accelerated growth of megacities, the migrations of skilled and unskilled workers abroad in large numbers, the arrival of global satellite television in the early 1990s, the advent of Internet and liberalization of media, and the impact of foreign artists, curators, biennials and residencies. As these developments stirred and agitated the artistic community in Pakistan, some artists found the formal and thematic framework employed by their modernist predecessors as inadequate.

Pakistani art practice had been primarily easel-based oil or water color painting or sculpture till the early 1990s. Its formal modes were also focused on landscapes, calligraphic abstraction and regional, historical figures and symbols. Contemporary artists wanted to address social concerns more directly than was possible with the languages of modernism. They were also intrigued by the artistic potential of new mediums and technologies. These motivations are evident in the work of artists who are making increasing forays into mediums previously marginal to art in Pakistan such as performance and video. Sculptor Amin Gulgee has created a regular platform to support performance art in Karachi. Hurmat Ul Ain and Rabbya Nasser have done a number of collaborative performances. Photography has matured as an important medium for artistic expression. While Arif Mahmood has pursued a subjective lyrical approach in his photos, Nashmia Haroon and Naila Mahmood have documented social and spatial inequities in their photography. Others such as Sajjad Ahmed, Aamir Habib, Amber Hammad, Aisha Abid Hussain, Sumaya Durrani, Anwar Saeed, Mohsin Shaf, Mahbub Shah, Zoya Siddiqui and Iqra Tanveer have extensively employed lens-based montage, staging, manipulation and conceptual approaches. Bani Abidi, Sophia Balagam, Yaminay Chaudhri, Ferwa Ibrahim, Haider Ali Jan, Ismet Khawaja, Mariah Lookman, Basir Mahmood, Sarah Mumtaz, Aroosa Rana, Fazal Rizvi and Shahzia Sikander have used video and new media as key modes for their artistic expression.

A representative selection of diverse contemporary artworks can be viewed in the catalogue of the Rising Tide exhibition curated by Naiza Khan in 2010 and in Salima Hashmi’s more recent book, The Eye Still Seeks: Pakistani Contemporary Art (published in 2015). A major contributor to the growth of contemporary art is the evolution of an art school culture that has proliferated in recent decades. Many innovative contemporary artists today are either former students of the NCA, the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVS), Karachi, and the Beaconhouse National University (BNU), Lahore, or they are teachers at these institutions.

During the last few decades, faculty at the NCA has included such accomplished artistsand art teachers as Bashir Ahmad, Naazish Ata-Ullah, Jamil Baloch, Colin David, Salima Hashmi, Muhammad Atif Khan, Afshar Malik, Quddus Mirza, R M Naeem, Imran Qureshi, Qudsia Rahim, Anwar Saeed, Nausheen Saeed and Beate Terfoth. While miniature painting had been taught at the NCA for decades, by the 1980s under encouragement by Zahoor ul Akhlaq — who was interested in the miniature’s underlying structure — its pedagogy converged with other aesthetic frameworks. The NCA has consequently produced notable New Miniature artists from the 1990s onwards. These include Waseem Ahmed, Khadim Ali, Ayesha Durrani, Irfan Hasan, Ahsan Jamal, Aisha Khalid, Hasnat Mehmood, Murad Khan Mumtaz, Imran Qureshi, Nusra Latif Qureshi, Wardha Shabbir, Madiha Sikander, Shahzia Sikander, Aakif Suri, Saira Wasim and Muhammad Zeeshan. Their work ranges from meticulously rendered figures and repeated floral and decorative motifs on vasli paper to unorthodox sculptures and large scale installations.

The other change brought about by the NCA is an expansion of artistic activity beyond the issues and concerns of big cities and the likes and dislikes of their elites. Being a state institution, it admits a diverse student body that cuts across rural and urban divides and other distinctions based on class, province and ethnicity. Many contemporary artists trained by the NCA come from different parts of Pakistan but they have made Lahore their home. A number of them – Noor Ali Chagani, Imran Channa, Shakila Haider, Ali Kazim, Waqas Khan, Nadia Khawaja, Rehana Mangi, Usman Saeed and Mohammad Ali Talpur – employ in their works a rigorous and repetitive mode of expression pioneered by Zahoor ul Akhlaq and the recently deceased former NCA teacher Lala Rukh (1948-2017). While Zahoor ul Akhlaq investigated the tension between geometry and narrative at a structural level, Lala Rukh was steadfastly committed to her spare, minimalist practice on diverse and unorthodox materials.

The simultaneous proliferation of art schools has also created a competitive environment in which teachers and students are more willing to experiment than ever before. The work of many BNU graduates employs innovative conceptual strategies and digital technologies. Salima Hashmi served as the founding dean of its School of Visual Arts & Design from 2003 till recently. Its faculty members have included David Alesworth, Unum Babar, Sophie Ernst, Malcolm Hutcheson, Samina Iqbal, Ghulam Mohammad, Huma Mulji, Rashid Rana, Ali Raza, Razia Sadik and Risham Syed.

The IVS, founded in 1989, has had a notable art faculty that includes Meher Afroz, Roohi Ahmed, David Alesworth, Elizabeth Dadi, Saba Iqbal, Naiza Khan, Naila Mahmood, Samina Mansuri, Asma Mundrawala, Nurayah Sheikh Nabi, Seher Naveed, Muzzumil Ruheel, Sadia Salim, Gemma Sharpe, Saira Sheikh, Adeela Suleman, Munawar Ali Syed, Omer Wasim and Muhammad Zeeshan. Its teachers and students experiment with diverse forms, structures and materials while focusing on Karachi’s complex urban issues such as identity, labour, infrastructure and public space. Established a decade after the IVS by artist Durriya Kazi, the Department of Visual Studies at the University of Karachi has also trained many active practitioners of contemporary art.

Some artists trained at these institutions have brought traditional mediums in conversation with diverse non-traditional materials and approaches. Akram Dost Baloch in Quetta and Abdul Jabbar Gull in Karachi, for instance, work with carved, constructed and relief sculptural works. Ehsan ul Haq, Mehreen Murtaza, Seema Nusrat and Ayesha Zulfqar have made conceptual multimedia installations. Many others – such as Sana Arjumand and Jamal Shah in Islamabad, Numair Abbasi, Moeen Faruqi, Madiha Hyder, Rabeya Jalil, Unver Shaf and Adeel uz Zafar in Karachi and Rabia Ajaz, Nurjahan Akhlaq, Fahd Burki, Fatima Haider, Sehr Jalil, Ayaz Jokhio, Madyha Leghari, Zahid Mayo, Imran Mudassar, Abdullah Qureshi, Kiran Saleem and Inaam Zafar in Lahore – have been committed to drawing, painting and printmaking in abstract, expressionist, figurative and narrative modes.

Increased opportunities for higher education as well as residencies and workshops abroad have allowed artists to learn and practice new skills.Karachi-based Vasl Artists’ Collective (part of the Triangle Arts Network) has initiated important residency programmes since its founding in 2000. Recent ventures by Karachi’s Sanat Gallery and Saba Khan’s Murree Museum Artists Residency are also notable initiatives. The Lahore Biennale Foundation has supported a number of prominent and innovative public art projects. The move towards exhibitions curated around a theme – by such curators as Aasim Akhtar, Hajra Haider Karrar, Adnan Madani, Zarmeené Shah and Aziz Sohail among others – is another recent development that is prompting artists to explore new ways to create and showcase their works.

This does not mean that all is well and wonderful in Pakistan’s art scene. A major issue is the near-absence of rigorous exposure to the study of humanities, social sciences and critical theory. This ultimately limits the intellectual growth of art graduates. For example, many young artists continue to simply quote historical motifs and artistic fragments from the past in their compositions. Others replace original motifs in ancient works with contemporary images or juxtapose them with commodity visuals. Rarely are these attempts groundbreaking. They are symptomatic of an inadequate critical ability to meaningfully engage with the history of art — a necessary part of finding one’s path as an artist. A deeper understanding of Indic art, miniature painting and western art movements may offer students more fundamental lessons pertaining to scale, structure and finesse in formal terms (of which Zahoor ul Akhlaq serves as an earlier example) as well as those concerning the social significance of such artistic concerns as patronage, circulation, address, narrative, history and economy. It does not help when graduating students triumphantly sell their work during degree shows. This reinforces the notion that market success is the primary measure of an artwork’s value rather than the process of research and investigation and the inevitably awkward initial grappling with complex aesthetic and social questions.

A related problem is the absence of robust platforms for intellectual debate. The few journals on art or culture that exist in Pakistan have been unable to frame key issues in ways that engender serious discussion. Even these journals have not been published regularly. Two of them – Sohbat published by the NCA and Nukta Art issued from Karachi – folded recently, leaving in their wake an even more impoverished discourse on art. Online journal ArtNow: Contemporary Art of Pakistan has thus assumed great signifcance as far as reviews and criticism of contemporary art in Pakistan are concerned.

This is partly addressed by graduate programs at the NCA, led by Lala Rukh earlier and Farida Batool at present. The focus on the study of humanities at the undergraduate level at the recently founded Habib University in Karachi and the announcement of a new undergraduate cultural studies program at the NCA offer grounds for optimism. A critical mass of engaged writers and theorists on art and culture may emerge in the years to come.

Democracy was restored in Pakistan in 1988 but it brought little relief to Karachi. Throughout the 1990s, the city had a severely depressed economy and experienced deadly violence between the government and identity-based political groups. But Karachi is also remarkable for its ever-proliferating commercial energy and its ceaselessly vibrant visual culture. The rise of popular urban aesthetics during the 1990s in the city needs to be situated against this background. Initiated by the art practices of David Alesworth, Elizabeth Dadi, myself and Durriya Kazi, this development is sometimes referred to as “Karachi Pop”. Its aesthetics bypass fidelity’s to national or folk authenticity and deploy informal urban objects and popular images to create photographs, sculpture and multimedia-based works that explore cinematic fantasy and everyday desire. Other artists who have similarly worked extensively with urban and media-popular cultures include Faiza Butt, Haider Ali Jan, Saba Khan, Ahmed Ali Manganhar, Huma Mulji, Rashid Rana and Adeela Suleman.

Many contemporary artists have worked on the complex ramifications of the post-9/11 era. Sensitive portraits of young madrasa students by Hamra Abbas in her work God Grows on Trees (2008), Rashid Rana’s digital photomontages that bring opposites together in perpetual tension and Imran Qureshi’s Moderate Enlightenment miniature paintings (2006-08) as well as his large scale installation at the Sharjah Biennial (2011) are among the most thoughtful works in this regard. 9/11, however, has also resulted in the production of many one-dimensional works that serve little purpose other than manifesting how global terrorism has eclipsed other important issues that contemporary art ought to have been investigating.

Feminism, too, has been a major theme in contemporary art. During the 1980s, feminist artists and poets emerged as the most vocal opponents of Zia’s Islamisation policies. Artists and activists Salima Hashmi and Lala Rukh have played a major role in this opposition. Since then many other artists have employed various modes of expression and genres to explore feminist themes and ideas. Naiza Khan’s art has explored the materiality of the female body since the early 1990s; Aisha Khalid’s paintings have investigated the liminal status of the female body trapped within decorative and ornamental motifs; Farida Batool’s photographic work critically locates the vulnerability of the ludic female body in urban space; Ayesha Jatoi has made striking interventions on public monuments that display military hardware; Adeela Suleman’s early work with decorated cooking utensils highlights the dangers women motorcycle riders face; Risham Syed has utilised embroidery and fabrics to highlight the disjunction between genteel domesticity and violence in public spaces; and Rabia Hassan’s videos draw attention to the rampant objectification of women’s bodies in Pakistani commercial cinema.

Globalization’s impact on contemporary art has also been significant. It has reconfigured the relationship between home and diaspora through ease in foreign travel and developments in communication technologies. Home and diaspora now exist in much closer proximity than was the case in the past. Many Pakistani artists have migrated abroad but they are producing artworks on themes and subjects that directly or indirectly link them to their home country. One of the most prominent among these expatriates is Bani Abidi. She has lived in India and Germany but continues to tackle fraught issues of identity and everyday life in Pakistan. Huma Bhabha, who developed her career primarily in New York, has created a series of apocalyptic prints based on photographs from Karachi titled Reconstructions (2007) and Seher Shah (now based in India) has explored haunting aferimages of exposure to Mughal and British colonial imagery. Other artists living abroad include Mariam Suhail and Masooma Syed (both based in India), Mariah Lookman (who resides in Sri Lanka), Saira Ansari, Rajaa Khalid, Saba Qizilbash and Hasnat Mahmood (who live and work in the United Arab Emirates), Humaira Abid, Anila Qayyum Agha, Komail Aijazuddin, Ambreen Butt, Khalil Chishtee, Ruby Chishti, Simeen Farhat, Talha Rathore, Hiba Schahbaz, Shahzia Sikander, Salman Toor and Saira Wasim (all based in the United States), Farina Alam and Faiza Butt (based in London), Khadim Ali, Nusra Latif Qureshi and Abdullah M I Syed (who have lived in Australia) and Samina Mansuri, Tazeen Qayyum, Amin Rehman and Sumaira Tazeen (who have migrated to Canada).

A more direct engagement of art with the enormous issues of social justice in Pakistan is also developing amongst contemporary artists. By making site-specific interventions (instead of creating discrete art objects such as paintings and sculptures), some artist collectives are investigating social processes and relations in modes that venture beyond the dominant ways of artistic expression. The Awami Art Collective in Lahore has done projects in public spaces that critique sectarianism and destructive urban development. Karachi-based Tentative Collective has focused on making interventions in subaltern communities of the city. And the archival and research-based work by Zahra Malkani and Shahana Rajani analyses how large-scale inequality is being structurally entrenched on the physical and socioeconomic margins of Karachi.

This essay was completed before two major art events – the Karachi Biennale curated by Amin Gulgee and the Lahore Biennale – have transpired. One hopes and expects that these ventures will distinctively and positively transform the trajectory of contemporary art in Pakistan in the months and years to come.

Some of the experimental contemporary artwork has been supported by Vasl, GandharaArt and the Lahore Biennale Foundation. But to continue to flourish, it urgently needs sustained and substantial support from state and private cultural organizations for research and production. It also requires prominent, large-scale, not-for-profit, intelligently curated spaces for its display. Private collectors spend large sums of money to acquire a single artwork but do not seem to comprehend the long-term value of incubating investigative artistic practice and scholarship that do not immediately yield shiny trophies for private possession. Grants through applications adjudged by juries coupled with ongoing mentorship through a research process can encourage young artists, curators and researchers to begin such investigations. Existing museums can also create spaces for contemporary projects and programs to foster non-commercial art. This will have the additional advantage of placing experimental work in a critical dialogue with the existing museum collections.

Pakistan is a vast and diverse country. Its social and cultural dimensions, in which rapid transformations are transpiring not always peacefully, remain highly under-examined. Apart from the undoubtedly urgent and highly visible issues of violence and political and media scandals, a whole host of other processes are unfolding rather silently. These include dramatic changes in rural and urban ecologies; the rise of new informal economies and labor practices; the capture of natural resources and economic development by crony capitalism; the disastrous state of education and other human development indicators; growing sectarianism and a simultaneous scripturalisation and mediatisation of religion; the tensions and collaborations between linguistic groups and the formation of new ethnicities; the complex traffic between folk authenticity and televised popular cultures; the transformative spread of social media technologies; the reconstitution of social hierarchies in emerging digital and biometric infrastructures; and marked changes in familial structures and sexual mores — just to notate a few. Only a few artists are addressing such issues and that too only tangentially.

Committed contemporary art practice, its thoughtful curating and incisive criticism and scholarship on it can provide unrivalled insights into these consequential developments. These diverse analytical and creative perspectives will view Pakistan not through the lens of narrow exceptionalism but by developing comparative insights with reference to the adjoining regions of South and West Asia as well as to the larger Global South. But for that to happen, many aspects of contemporary art need to be reoriented towards research and process. The existing strengths of Pakistani contemporary art – its commitment to rigorous studio practice and object-making – need to be brought into a sustained critical conversation with other academic and creative disciplines.

4 thoughts on “A brief History of form and meaning in Pakistani Art”

  1. I don’t want to be do not take cooking person in your life

    It feels rude to suggest that. Like Idon’t care aboutmy boyfriend or girlfriend. Or that I’m ungrateful for his love and closeness. But I came to this realization after so many years of downplaying what I wanted personally or professionally, however because it seemed that’s what was required. Which also insinuates that your career ambitions can remain staticwhile your courtship and potential mate take precedence as your toppriority.

    regardless how far we have progressed, Society still tends to dictate that you’re not fully settled down until you’re paired off. If that weren’t your result,Singleswouldn’t be met with that same question at family functions and friend reunions: maybe met someone nice?

    What when you have had met someone nice. Does that mean that the majority of your attention mustbe devoted to them? That you quietly tuck away some of your aspirations because something has to give? I suspect that the most attention should be focused on yourself partner or not.

    Story continues below advertising campaign

    I don’t want to be the most important part of your life because you’re likely not the key to mine. It might sound narcissistic, but it is more layered than that. I can nevertheless be someone’s true loveand let my own life and aspirations hold more weight. Many of my dreams for my life have motivated me foryears,Only gaining in strength and momentum in time. Aman I’ve dated for a couple of years cannot charmdate.com compare to that. Nor doI expect my presence to surpass his plans for his lifesimply because he calls me his honey.

    I once dated a guy who filtered all of his career goalsaround being sure nothing on his path to success detracted from the time he could spend with me. Anytime we talkedabout where we saw ourselves down the road, “everyone” Reigned supreme in all of his plans. I wasn’t even sure that he had been sincere. He seemed to think he should really be following some kindof a romance caste system: People in romantic relationships sit at the top. Your citizen vs. Everyone and the whole lot.

    Seeing him act this wayreaffirmed that I’d donethe same thing a long time ago. I’d gently abandonedcertain goals to devote thatenergy to my boyfriends. to earning us work long term.

  2. trouble free Dating Advice Tips

    Are you one of brought on sometimes placed in a situation where you have to look for a date? Maybe you don’t need to but think it would be nice to have someone? Do you think that you’re not dating material and that you wouldn’t even know where chnlove review to start? You’re not alone, buddy. Majority of the people on this planet think and feel lust like you do. the good thing is, top quality books and shows out there that give tips and advice on dating.

    at first is finding a suitable date. I know it sounds easier said than done. It’s what got you this far in reading this short article. techniques; friendship experts have tons of ideas for initiates in the dating game.

    a really popular choice nowadays, Especially for busy or shy people is online dating sites. internet websites screen potential matches and also give you advice on dating.

    When you have found a date to spend some quality time with it’s then onto the next stage which is deciding what you have to do. It’s advisable to choose something which both parties are going to enjoy. Popular assistance include bowling, movie theater, A meal out or a trip to the theatre.

    though, if you agree confident enough, an individual could try out something new and different. A lot of advice on dating suggests trying activities which has been uncommon but would make the date more interesting. if you’re both outgoing and nature lovers, you could attempt hiking or if you both have intellectual hobbies, Visit some heritage sites nearby. You’ll then have more stuff to express and truly enjoy pursuing those interests.

    Once you’ve been subject to those first steps, You will feel more at ease making use of your date. You may start looking towards enjoying more of each other’s company and may go as far as going to family events. Meeting your partner’s family though is in which will require careful thought. You don’t want to pretend to be someone you’re not but you should also give a good impression. Being open about all your other worries and willingly listening to your partner is what intimacy is all about.

    Possessing a healthy sense of humor is also a good trait to have in the case of dating. This fact is applicable it doesn’t matter how long you have been dating or together. Advice on dating will always tell you that fun and humor in a relationship is a positive thing in the future.

  3. I like to girls, to rest with my close friends females a na. In an old fashioned Moldovan buddies and family, the principal demand within the spouse is normally taking care of the Female’s other half and babies. That is why Moldova young women are called for to determine a practical and also commendable wife in another country. One of the primary reasons you ought to avoid dating Moldovan mail order bride-to-bes is the risk of gaining excess weight. Toni is a licensed dating coach and also intermediator with over a years of experience. Toni Muller has actually spent the majority of her occupation looking into the psychology of charming connections. They are all set to use any kind of chance to stay in an area with much better education and learning and job possibilities. A Moldovan woman will get the necessary medicine, prepare a visit with a medical professional, and do whatever to help her companion really feel better. Which has a Moldavian significant other implies getting greatest possible economic climate with your residence and also having exclusively important thing throughout the country’s ideal suited location. We are constantly hectic with job, house tasks, and various other issues, so we have no time at all to go out and satisfy individuals in the roads. Actually, everything that they are called for as well as really hope out of anyone is rather simple (certainly, in situation you are some sensible guy).

    A Moldovan lady can become your very own icon of a successful man. You can really speak to your bride-to-be around any kind of topic in order to discover the interaction quite taking part. Here you can be yourself and locate somebody who’s really your type of person. Each country falls victim to certain stereotypes; Moldova is not an exemption below. Here you will be able to find all the accoutrements one would certainly anticipate from a huge city. Moldova is one of the least seen nations in Europe, it supplies a wide array of areas worth seeing. They have lots of power as well as need to find new places as well as obtain new experiences. That’s why you can try an additional variant to obtain accustomed with local girls. Why Are Moldova Brides So Popular? Online dating someone right from Moldova you’ve a real feasible possibility to locate a wonderful homemaker. It is a good suggestion to make use of the dating ideas that the Moldovan females dating website has to find out and have a little enjoyable exactly how to be more outbound.

    Well, which typically continues without stating the ladies get a kick out of food preparation as they are truly reliable in the concept. To see to it you opposing this special, elegant Moldovan women nevertheless focus on the extremely concept of an exceptional family above everthing else. They are thought about as the participants of the brand-new family members as well as the guardians of the new marriage. Dating platforms enable members to define more suitable physical and also personal features of potential companions. Exactly how come International Online dating Captivate Moldovian Singles? Your sweetheart will make standard meals of her indigenous country as well as try recipes from international cuisine. You can register on an international matchmaking system to date ladies online. Absolutely essential to mention that many Moldavie women might not remain in a look for successful men. Their face includes separately might appear wrong, but with each other they comprise an one-of-a-kind look. Prevent imply jokes and opening methods in an effort opening make meet laugh or smile, because you will be complete recognized as well as you may shed! The raising pressure in life has actually led some Moldovan men to disregard their females as well as, to make matters worse, resort to alcohol as the coping system.

    The ladies of Moldova ladies seeking western males fulfill NOT hopeless to discover international hubbies or ladies from Russia. Western guys claim that their women have actually currently shed such females’s high qualities as womanhood and sexuality. I moldovan a ladies full as well as jolly,open-minded women life individual. In this feeling, Moldovan women are no various moldova women than a lot of ladies on the planet; girls wish to know exactly how essential they are to you as well as you would certainly do anything for them. Local ladies don’t even need to use makeup to repair something in their look. Also if your partner wants to conceal something, you will discover it from the tone of her voice, her body language, as well as even the blush on her face. Also those preferring exotic charms from Asia will discover how magnificent Moldovan bride-to-bes are. The structures are also greyer. There are many fantastic historic structures and also museums all throughout the nation. And one of the primary issues in the country is the financial condition, making it among the poorest nations in Europe. Virtually all Moldova females have higher education and learning, so no one can state that they are illiterate. Moldavian females like cooking food.

  4. Cry for help must heard

    In today paper we publish a story about a paramedic who has revealed the intense pressures which he and his colleagues are facing.

    In his alarming Facebook post he reveals the extent of this pressure which, he claims, can result in staff self harming, and possibly putting them at risk of committing suicide.

    Such claims are not entirely new, But it is the graphic details of what he has experienced which paint a disturbing picture of the circumstances in which paramedics are forced to work.

    As first responders to a crisis, The paramedics often have to attend scenes and situations which most of us would not want to experience.

    large enough. work involved is helping with the care, Or saving living, Of people taken heed of ill or seriously injured, frantically and calm decision making are essential requirements for the job.

    Many of us have seen this to live in, Either from our own experience or watching a loved one delays for an ambulance.

    irrespective of how quickly it arrives, The minutes have gave the look of hours, and there’s huge relief when help is at hand.

    It is not difficult to imagine the cumulative effect of daily pressure on paramedics who have the obligation of dealing with such challenges.

    regardless of experienced the paramedic may be, This constant tension in working with needy people and their families and friends just builds and builds. Added to that is pressure of working in an underfunded healthcare system, With the paramedic staff professionalism and trust being undermined by forces outside their control while they are trying to give the best care possible.

    There are also the horrific occasions when paramedics are physically attacked by the people they are trying to help.

    being a, There cannot be any surprise that people paramedic is drawing public attention to the pressure on himself and his colleagues, And on the inherent faults in the system.

    Of course people who join the paramedic service are doubtless aware of the possibility pressures involved, But that in itself is no strong [url=https://twitter.com/asiamescam]asiame review[/url] maintain from the realities they encounter every day in doing their job.

    the final thought is simple. There must be better and more adequate systems put in place to protect the mental and physical well being of medical staff on the front line. This ought to include adequate staffing levels, correct time off, And counselling when required.

    It is important that those who come to our aid have the proper care and resources available when they themselves need help. This is cached page on VietNam breaching News.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.