Saturday, January 25, 2014

Pakistan visual arts never had a better year than 2013

By Artwallaa

Artwallaa believes that since the sixties, Pakistan visual arts never had a better year than 2013.

"Labyrinth of Reflections: The Art of Rashid Rana 1992 - 2012" is the best exhibition put up in Pakistan in the past decade (and perhaps one of the most under-marketed too). Source: Mohatta Palace.

The year started with the landmark retrospective of Rashid Rana at the Mohatta Palace. It is easily by far the best ever contemporary artists' exhibition put up in Pakistan (the only other coming close to this was Sadequain's Holy Sinner exhibited at the same venue in 2002.

Source: Mohatta Palace

The contrast in the venue and the art displayed couldn't be starker. Mohatta Palace is as old world as it gets; architecture/façade inspired by the stone palaces of Rajhistan, hand-dyed tiles, teak wood windows and multiples domes. The exhibition Mohatta Plalace is holding, Labyrinth of Reflections: The Art of Rashid Rana 1992 - 2012, is as cutting edge and contemporary as it could be. 

Source: Mohatta Palace

2013 nonetheless belongs to Imran Qureshi who was chosen for The Artist of the Year award by Deutsche Bank for 2013; an award which is awarded to an artist every year on a global basis and by a very prestigious group of international curators.


Mr Qureshi became not only the first Pakistan but also Asian to receive this award. The artist has never looked back since this announcement in the fourth quarter of 2012 and had been chosen for the Roof Top Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) in New York (which was independent of the Deutsche Bank award), a separate paintings exhibition at The Met and making it into several 'who is who' lists of international artists.
Photo: Photography by Hyla Skopitz, The Photograph Studio, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Copyright 2013
Source: The Met

Other Pakistani artists who continued to make their presence felt on the global scene included Shazia Sikander and Aisha Khalid. Also, the size of the group of artists following the above four established artists continues to grow in 2013. Artists who made significant progress in spreading their wings beyond Pakistan include Khadim Ali, Adeel Zafar, Fahd Burki, Basir Mehmood, Atif Khan, Saira Wasim, Noor Ali, Faiza Butt, Waqas Khan and Risham Syed and many more.

Important year-to-date 2013 Pakistan Visual art events at the global level:

  • Rashid Rana Retrospective at the Mohatta Palace, Karachi - By far the best exhibition put up in Pakistan for any contemporary Pakistani artist and comparable to Sadequain's 'Holy Sinner' exhibited at the same venue in 2002.
  • Imran Qureshi - Deutsche Artist of the Year 2013 - Announcement, celebration and exhibition at the NCA. First Pakistan and Asian to be chosen for this award.
  • Naiza Khan's solo exhibition, "Karachi Elegies" opens at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan.
  • 2013 saw a resurgence of Pakistani artists' participation in Art Dubai, after a couple of years's nominal presence. Amongst the participants were Shahzia Sikander with her super-sized video installation at the Sharjah Biennial, Aisha Khalid whose artwork is believed to be picked up by a Saudi royalty, Fahd Burki who received the John Jones Art on Paper Award at the Fair and Basir Mehmood.
  • Imran Qureshi's Solo exhibition opens at the Kunstahalle in Berlin - as part of the Deutsche Artist of the Year activities. The exhibition opening night was attended by over 1000 people and there were reportedly queues ouside the museum in central Berlin. The exhibition which included Qureshi's new as well as old works, was accompanied by a very comprehensive monograph of the artists encompassing the entire body of his work.
  • Waqas Khan of NCA got short-listed for this year's Jameel Prize.
  • Imran Qureshi becomes the first Asian chosen for the Roof Top Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.
  • Art Basel Hong Kong had the largest ever representation of Pakistani artists in the Fair's history. Artists exhibiting at the Fair included Shahzia Sikander, Aisha Khalid, Addel Zafar, Imran Qureshi, Risham Syed, Atif Khan, Shezad Dawood, Faiza Butt, Khadim Ali and Imran Channa.
  • Venice Biennale opened in which Imran Qureshi's works were part of the Main Pavillion at the Arsenale and Faiza Butt's works were exhibited at a satellite event.
  • Imran Qureshi makes it into the Art+Auction's prestigious 50 Under 50: The Next Most Collectible Artists list for 2013. The magazine publishes its widely followed list in the middle of year and this is the first time that a Pakistani artist has made it to the list. Qureshi is also the only locally based artist from the sub-continent to make it to the list. Other artists with subcontinent connections are the London based Idris Khan and Raqib Shaw.
  • Imran Qureshi makes the list of 'The Most Important Artists of 2013 (so far)'. Mr Qureshi's inclusion brought himself and Pakistan right in the middle of the truly global contemporary artists. The list includes - Jean-Michel Basquiat, James Turrell, JR, Ai Weiwei, Paul McCarthy, Keith Haring, Jeff Koons, Donald Judd, Tino Sehgal, KAWS, Richard Mosse, Imran Qureshi, FAILE, Marina Abramovic, Barbara Kruger, Tom Friedman, Tracey Emin, El Anatsui, James Franco, Takashi Murakami, Marc Quinn, Kenny Scharf and Brian Eno. 
  • Imran Qureshi's exhibition of miniature paintings opens at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.


The Frieze 2013 and Pakistan: The Frieze Art Fair had a good representation of Pakistan artists including the likes of Imran Qureshi, Aisha Khalid, Shahzia Sikander to younger artists like Waqas Khan and Mehreen Mustaza.

A decade from now, 2013 will surely be seen as a watershed year in Pakistan's visual art history. I hope you enjoyed these developments in 2013 as much as Artwallaa did !

Your 'feeling very proud'



PS: To know more on why Artwallaa believes that the Pakistan visual art scene is in an irreversible upward pattern, read the following articles:
Bloomberg article on Pakistan art - stereotyped, shallow but ......
A Proud Milestone for Pakistan & Asian Art

PPS: If you think that our list above has missed out on any important Pakistani visual art development, then please do share with us. The more the merrier.


No comments:

Post a Comment