Huma Mulji is the third Pakistani artist to have been awarded the Abraaj Capital Art Prize since the award was introduced in 2008.
This was stated by the prize’s curator Laura Egerton at a talk arranged at the Rohtas 2 on Monday.
The prize is awarded to five artists and curators each year from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Risham Syed (2012) and Hamra Abbas (2011) are the other two Pakistani recipients. Mulji is the 2013 recipient and will produce a body of work by next year.
Salima Hashmi moderated the conversation between Egerton, Mulji and Syed. The artists and the curator talked about the process of producing art in collaboration with curators, writing application proposals and making the work time relevant.
Egerton praised the Pakistani artists for the quality of work they had produced. She said that the prize was unique in that it was awarded to a proposal, not artworks already produced by the artists. The artists work with curators to produce fresh artworks, she said, which then becomes a part of the art fair collection. “It does not mean that it is put behind closed doors. It is taken to countries around the world so others get an opportunity to see it too,” said Egerton.
Egerton described the curators as being “crucial” to developing an artist’s work. The curators give the artists’ feedback, she said, to help them translate their proposal into art.
Egerton encouraged the students to seek help from the artists who have won the prize or curators of galleries within Pakistan before applying for the prize.
Syed talked about the seven paintings titled Seven Seas that she produced in the year after she received the prize. She described it as being a “statement on contemporary and the 19th century trade routes of the East India Company”. Syed printed the route maps onto cotton fabric which was quilted, painted and embroided. Syed said she travelled extensively for collecting maps and fabrics for her work.
“There was resistance against the British occupation in every part of the subcontinent and I tried to include that in my work,” said Syed, who is an assistant professor at the School of Visual Arts at the Beaconhouse National University.
Syed also talked about the process of creating the work and the feedback she received from the curator assigned to her.
Artists Dr Rahat Naveed Masud, Nazaish Ataullah, Quddus Mirza, Salima Hashmi, David Alesworth and a large number of students of the National College of Art attended the event.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 14th, 2012.