KARACHI: The 1865 Venetian-Gothic limestone structure of Frere Hall was brought to life with twinkling yellow lights for the Faiz Art Prize to celebrate the revolutionary poet’s centennial on Monday.
Men in big cars pulled up in front of the hall, dressed in suits, while the women were dressed to kill in green and red shalwar kameezes. It was a perfect evening for poety and art, the sun had set and the weather was light and breezy.
The stairway that led up to the Gallerie Sadequain was dark but the space itself was dimly lit with art work on white boards all around. Sadequain’s unfinished ceiling mural, high above the 3-D art pieces and other work by young artists, still managed to steal the show for some visitors.
While talking about the art prize, Ghazi Salauddin said that they had to promote artists in the country or fear an intellectual void. He explained that the prize was named after the revolutionary poet because poetry, prose and art focused on and encouraged peace. “After religion and faith, only art and imagination have the power to bring about a change.”
And indeed, change was the cause. One of the reasons for organising the event, said the people behind it, was to raise money to build a village near Dera Ismail Khan that had been destroyed in the floods last year.
After the introduction were made, the organisers screened a documentary on the Yarak village. The film explained how the funds generated from a silent auction of the art works would be put to use. Around 140 artworks will be on display from Tuesday, October 4 at the gallery. They will be presented as postcards which would be used to create a link between literature, art and politics. They represent the artists’ response to what Faiz had thought and wanted for the country. The list includes the likes of Saeed Akhtar, Meher Afroz, Amin Gulgee, Ali Azmat, Abdullah Syed.
A young boy wearing a black kurta said that he was very excited about being there because his mother had told him that it was important to read Faiz in order to understand the world. Urdu poet Prof. Sahar Ansari remarked that it was a good idea to promote Faiz because it would have a positive impact. Journalist Raza Ali Abidi commented on how even though he had read Faiz his entire life, there were still some elements of his work that were beyond his ken.
The main organisers of the art show were NuktaArt Magazine editor Romana Hussein, Nilofur Farrukh of the International Association of Art Critics in Pakistan, Aman ki Asha and Progressive Writers Association Karachi General Secretary Rahat Saeed. Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s daughters, Salima and Moneeza Hashmi, will present the award which has been designed by sculptor Shahid Sajjad.
with writing by tooba masood
Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2011.
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