Shanakth artists’ forum: Now well known, a Pakistani artist shares his earlier struggles in Germany

Abdul Hanif now owns his own gallery, where he displays his work exclusively۔

Our Correspondent July 08, 2012

ISLAMABAD: While most people tend to get together to gossip, criticise and complain about the country and the general situation, Shanakht, a forum for artists at Nomad Art Gallery, got together on Sunday to celebrate the brighter side of life and bring out new ideas to make our society better.

Germany-based Pakistani artist Abdul Hanif was invited at the forum to not only showcase his work but also discuss his early experiences as a struggling artist suffering the stigma of being a foreigner.

“When I got to Germany, I would beg local artists to showcase their work with me but they would refuse; but now that I’m established, the shoe is on the other foot,” said Hanif, who was very proud of having established himself in a country that rejected him in the beginning.

Now well-known in art circles, Hanif works at a hotel and owns his own gallery where only his work is showcased. When local artists asked whether or not it would be better to collaborate with German artists to create more dialogue and leave space for new ideas, Hanif replied that as he had struggled alone in his worst times, he prefers to work on his own, and since his work is now very sought after in the German art scene he feels content that way.

“Only my wife supported me though my ordeal. Even though I’m a German national, I’m still not accepted,” he said.

Hanif explained the thought process behind his work that was displayed on the walls of the gallery. His work is mainly abstract with bold brush strokes and layers of water paints that leaves the viewer wondering about the subject matter behind the work.

Dark blue dominated the works on display. Once he explained that the work is actually based on underwater sea life, only then does one begin to understand the tell tale signs of seashells swirls and the white foamy effect etched on the canvases.

After the discussion session, a documentary made by two Swedish artists was screened. Hanna Sjoberg and Maria Backman had made a summary of their stay in Pakistan as they travelled to Taxila and Wah with the Nomad team and discovered the “real Pakistan”, and their exhibition at the Nomad Gallery.

Nageen Hayat, the curator of the gallery, said the two artists used a lot of their pictures for the documentary, which will also be shown at an exhibition in Sweden.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2012.


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