KARACHI: “So, so impressed,” is the verdict on Karachi’s art scene from Deepanjana D. Klein at Christie’s, the art business known for conducting some of the world’s most well-known auctions of art, jewellery and antiques.
Klein, the head of sales for Christie’s Modern and Contemporary Indian Art department, visited Karachi with Hugo Weihe, the international director of Asian Art, this weekend as part of a research trip and they flew to Lahore on Sunday for another couple of days. During their trip, Klein met artists such as Naiza Khan and Adeela Suleman - two of the city’s most well-established names - and with a number of art collectors, including Hameed Haroon.
Klein told The Express Tribune that while Christie’s had been working with artists from Pakistan for several years, you can’t understand the context “unless you see the work on the ground, see the crime and grit.”
“The younger generation work is sensitive and excels in terms of skill and context,” Klein said.
She also noted that what she liked was how older artists supported the younger artists. “When you go to Naiza’s studio you see a lot of work of younger artists as well as her own.”
“I have to say it has been very inspiring… very, very positive,” Klein enthused.
In Lahore, Klein said that the Christie’s representatives would be meeting prominent artist Rashid Rana, “a friend for years”, as well as Salima Hashmi, who she met with in New York as well. They will also be visiting the National College of Arts to get a “sense of the context, this is where artists are coming from”, as well as lot of younger artists. Klein mentioned artists Mubashir Munir and Ayesha Kamal as people she was hoping to meet.
Klein said that there was a definite market for Pakistani artists abroad. “What we’re trying to do is bring in younger American collectors,” she said. They would be the ones who can afford to buy work from Pakistan because of the price tags, as well as bring collectors to salvation sales. “It is work they can relate to, it is very affordable, and they see promise and potential.”
However, Klein said that, “The sense we are getting is that there is not enough local patronage. Artists are buying each other’s work, and there are collectors such as Hameed Haroon.” This sentiment is echoed by ArtNow editor Nafisa Rizvi, who told The Express Tribune recently that while there was a “heightened” interest in Pakistani art, that wasn’t reflected at home.
Artist Naiza Khan said that the Christie’s representatives had visited her studio. “We had a discussion about what I’m doing, and they are looking at what is happening here.” Khan noted that Christie’s representatives visited Pakistan several times before. “Over the years, they’ve worked with contemporary artists, but I think this is a research trip, and not a sales trip.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2012.