London has a love affair with art and the city celebrates it by playing frequent host to it — the event was held October 2012. Short on the heels of the Frieze Art Fair was the highly successful and much anticipated Asian Art in London.
A leading Indian auction house Saffronart held a preview evening of Art of Pakistan, the first stand-alone auction of Pakistani art by an Indian gallery or “A gallery in London”, according to Abha Housego of Saffronart.
“It was the right time to hold an event dedicated to Pakistani art, not only in terms of the interest around it right now but also as the right step forward in view of improving India-Pakistan relations,” Housego added.
Among the artists, whose works were showcased at the event, were Sadequain, Anwar Jalal Shemza, Jamil Naqsh and Ahmed Parvez. Some important contemporary artworks by Rashid Rana, Mohammad Ali Talpur, Naiza Khan, Ayaz Jokhio and Shahzia Sikander were also included in the exhibition.
Leading the sale was Deutsche Bank’s Artist of the Year 2013, Imran Qureshi, with Moderate Enlightenment 2 — a part of his series about the world events of 9/11 and those that followed it.
Qureshi feels his art “also reflects this dissonance in its technique, where contemporary themes are paired with traditional miniature styles”.
Furthermore, a lot of buzz surrounded Bollywood star Salman Khan’s portrait by Rashid Rana; many Indians and Pakistanis at the event believed it added just the right accent to the event. It was the perfection of technique with the underlying element of kitsch that also made it stand out.
An interesting talk between artist Faiza Butt and collector Kamran Anwer on how Pakistani art has grown over the years was the centre piece of the preview.
A word with Housego, a few days after the event, revealed that, “66% of the total works were bought during the 24 hour online auction, with some artists reaching their record prices”. Naqsh’s stunning untitled work from the Jamil Naqsh Pays Homage to Picasso series got the highest bid with $27,692.
Followed by Asian Art, London saw TCF’s Exhibition of Contemporary Pakistani Art in MICA Gallery in Sloane Square. The exhibition was a fundraising event organised by TCF supporter Nilofer Saeed.
Some established and emerging artists, living and working in Pakistan had donated works — some never exhibited before — to the cause of literacy in the country. The works ranged from figurative imagery, symbolic and feminist expression to calligraphy, miniature, collage and abstract expression in an array of mediums such as oil, acrylic, water colour, charcoal, smoke, gold and silver leaf and pen and ink.
Outstanding pieces such as Gulgee’s iconic, Provenance from Allah series, Naiza Khan’s The Ground Under Our Feet, drew gushing reviews.
Shahla Shareef of Supporters of The Citizens Foundation (STCF) and one of the curators of the exhibition said that she was thrilled by the overwhelming response and interest in Pakistani contemporary art.
“We have had many English, European and American visitors to the show and are really encouraged by the enthusiasm with which it has been received. The art had also sold very well. The next stop for this exhibition is the US and STCF hopes to make it an annual affair,” she added.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2012.