Two Pakistanis shortlisted for South Asia’s biggest art prize

Marium Agha and Ayessha Quraishi were finalised from 400 entries

Entertainment Desk May 17, 2022

Two Pakistani have made it to the final round of South Asia's biggest art prize, The 2022 Sovereign Asian Art Prize. Ayessha Quraishi and Marium Agha were selected from over 400 entries. The finalists hail from 16 countries and regions across Asia-Pacific, of which Hong Kong has the strongest representation, followed by China, Iran, Singapore, and Vietnam.

The finalist, Marium Agha, 40, holds a BFA from Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, an MFA from University of The Arts London, Central Saint Martins, London and completed a course in Curating Contemporary Art from Chelsea School of Art And Design, London (2009).

According to the outlet, Marium "by surveying the relentless nature of love for over a decade through images, theory, and the self, the artist finds a safe process in deconstructing elements of popular culture which no longer validate contemporary sensibilities." It further reads, "Agha’s deconstructed tapestries, drawings, and text serve to create newer, relevant narratives of the ‘given real’, that is, love, and the supposed representational: the concupiscence of the flesh."

Shedding light on her art, Marium shared, "Created using found tapestries from a Karachi flea market, Agha has deconstructed the fabric and altered the weave to create a new narrative. Each thread is then meticulously carved into the existing surface with an “ari” (embroidery needle)."

The second finalist, Ayessha, 52, works in a way natural to her since childhood, her process appearing like braille. Physically, she maintains constant contact with two materials: the surface and the paint. The outlet shared, "Quraishi’s hands perform two roles simultaneously, the right applying colour to the surface while the left removes it with a turpentine-soaked rag. This series of repeated hand gestures and motions results in a visceral language of sequential mark marking. The duality between form and formlessness, making and un-making, adding and subtracting, explores themes of memory, absence and presence, separation and union."

Detailing Ayessha's art, the statement further read, "The day could not pen what the night painted, encapsulates the artists’ belief that the day and night are strung through a continuum of breaths; we have no memory of sleep, sensory experience or recording. During sleep, we are not aware of sleeping and only upon waking do we realise we have slept. In the absence of a sensory register, the body finds rest. According to Quraishi, just as the day rests in the lap of night and its volumed emptiness, our perceptions, varnished by the light of consciousness, come to rest not in conclusions but imaginings of what life could be."

Of the finalists, 27 are new to The Prize this year.

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