Art Attack: Pakistan Art Forum

Imtisal Zafar on art diversity in the city of Lahore


April 15, 2021

Pakistan Art Forum focuses on showcasing a variety of Pakistani artwork by local artists. The goal and objective of conducting exhibition from the start has been the proliferation of art in the country. Pakistan Art Forum (PAF) positioned itself as a platform for all forms of art in Pakistan and is the largest digital art space for artists, galleries, curators, collectors and art enthusiasts in the country today and since its inception (2014) has tirelessly worked in bringing forth the best in the art world from all across Pakistan. We spoke to Imtisal Zafar who is the head curator of Pakistan Art Forum who hosted the vibrant exhibition in Lahore of various and diverse artists.

When did Pakistan Art Forum start and what was the objective behind it?

Imtisal: Pakistan Art Forum (PAF) started in April 2014 and positioned itself as a platform for all forms of art in Pakistan. The forum is the largest digital art space for artists, gallerists, curators, collectors and art enthusiasts in the country today and since its inception has tirelessly worked in bringing forth the best in the artworld from all across Pakistan. The goal and objective from the start has been the proliferation of art in the country.

When did PAF Collectors’ Soiree start? What inspired the event?

The PAF Soiree is an annual show carefully curated by myself which originated in 2018. The idea behind the show is providing a wonderful evening to collectors and artists alike where like-minded individuals are present amidst some gorgeous art. The show has ambitiously grown over the years and has included some highly acclaimed international artists with an impressive array of local artists.

How has PAF helped shape careers of various artists over the years?

The PAF, with its vast, targeted audience is the largest platform of its kind in the country. Not only do the artists discover its immense potential early in their career by promoting their works but PAF also actively puts in a lot of effort to cover thesis shows of art colleges across the country to promote emerging talent via its platform. Each year there are some artists that we choose to be our beak out stars from various thesis shows and promote them on our platform. The exposure has helped many artists in their careers in the past, some of which include Mohsin Sheikh, Zainab Aziz, Imran Kazmi, Naila Talpur, Saddam Murad etc.

How is the experience of curating the PAF Soiree show so far?

It’s been a wonderful journey so far! Each year sitting down and selecting our list for the show is thoughtful process. The line-up of the show will be indicative of how the audience will receive it. It’s a long journey of at least six months each year of putting together the show. The most exciting part is when the artists start sending in all the artworks. Being a collector, my impulse is wanting to buy so many of them as they are always so good, but I have to stop myself to let everyone else see them first before acquiring for myself.

What are the challenges?

The long coordination months are exhausting. Sometimes deadlines are not met and that throws us off our schedule. Another challenge is getting artworks of international artists to Pakistan. It is a nightmare to send across money to them and also when the works arrive, many times customs creates hurdles. Lastly, sending artworks outside Pakistan is also cumbersome and expensive.

What is in store for the future of PAF?

Well, first and foremost we are working on our global sales website in Pakistan and will be launched very soon. You’ll be able to access our amazing collection on www.pakistanartforum.com

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