Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pakistan Art Exhibition at Tufts

Illuminated Geographies: Pakistani Miniaturist Practice in the Wake of the Global Turn

January 17 - March 31
Tisch Gallery
Featuring new works by Ambreen Butt, Faiza Butt, Murad Khan Mumtaz, and Saira Wasim. Guest curated by Justine Ludwig, adjunct curator Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati.

The practice of Mughal miniature painting originated during the 16th century in the Mughal Empire, which spanned what is now India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan. This art form was marked by a meticulous attention to minute detail, lush jewel tones, epic subject matter, and diminutive scale. As the Mughal Empire fell into decline, so did this style. Today we are experiencing a renaissance in this mode of artistic expression, due, in large part, to the National College of Art in Lahore, Pakistan (NCA), which since the 1980s has taught this traditional practice of wasli paper- and brush-making techniques, paint mixing, narrative style, and iconography. Two generations of artists have now studied at the NCA and have revived this practice as a relevant contemporary art form by infusing it with their individual visions and contemporary subject matter.

Illuminated Geographies explores how Pakistani miniaturist painting is evolving as it enters into new contexts and how its stylistic foundation is being adapted through four very different artistic visions. This exhibition focuses on four artists trained at the NCA now living outside of Pakistan who are pushing the boundaries of miniaturist practice in different directions. New works by these four artists -- Ambreen Butt, Faiza Butt, Murad Khan Mumtaz, and Saira Wasim -- all deal with themes of cultural hybridity as the artists address the political, social, and cultural realities of both Pakistan and their present locations. Saira Wasim, for example, critiques American politics in the visual language of political cartoons, while Faiza Butt addresses the representation of Muslim men in the London media and the aesthetic qualities of the Urdu and English languages. Through beauty these artists ask difficult question and confront us with the realities of the world we live in.

This exhibition has been guest curated by Justine Ludwig, adjunct curator at the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati. A 168-page multi-authored publication will be co-published in February 2013 by the Tufts University Art Gallery and The Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, which organized Realms of Intimacy: Miniaturist Practice from Pakistan (on view September 2011 to January 2012; featuring Ambreen Butt, Faiza Butt, Imran Qureshi, Nusra Qureshi, and Saira Wasim). It will also feature 18 contemporary artists trained at the NCA working internationally.

Ambreen Butt

         Faiza Butt

         Saira Wasim

        Murad Khan Mumtaz


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