ISLAMABAD: Resilience distinguishes the lives of most Pakistanis, including the noted artists whose work was vandalised during an exhibition in Ahmedabad last year. While the enraged mob left a resonating political message, artists collaborating on both sides of the border renewed their commitment to the peace mission.
“We will not be discouraged and our exchange will not be weakened through such acts,” shared artist Mansoor Rahi, whose tattered black-and-white rendering was on display at the Resilient Ambassadors’ exhibition at Gallery 6 on Wednesday, as a reminder of the obstacles to the peace process between Pakistan and India for the benefit of the anti-Pakistan vote bank.
Gesturing at one of the 47 works of art adorning the walls at the gallery, a portrait of a woman in vibrant hues at odds with her solemn expression, the curator Arjumand Faisal said, “Roused by political events, the mob showed little remorse even when caught by the police. They were there to register a complaint at the cost of our hard work and good intentions.”
At the bottom of the stairs leading to the gallery, Faisal ushered guests in and glanced intermittently at a video display of the right-wing mob smashing his creative efforts on the ground with little remorse.
He was one of 16 artists whose works had travelled to India for an exhibition at the Ni Gufa Art Gallery in Ahmedabad to promote artistic exchange.
“I had to cut this up to save it,” he explained, adding that while it was a painful experience, he wanted the exhibition to convey a quiet protest of their own as a show of resilience in the face of reminders that while peace was on the agenda of the common man, resistance was part of the trajectory of moving forward.
“It was a trying process to get these paintings back to Pakistan because the organising body, International Creative Art Centre cut off all ties with us,” Faisal explained how the period of not knowing which of the works had survived was one that was most daunting.
“In a sense the damaged works have been enriched with this narrative and carry added value.”
Abid Hasan, Abrar Ahmed, Akram Spaul, Aqeel Solangi, Hajra Mansoor, Irfan Gul Dahri, Mussarrat Nahid Imam, Mudassar Manzoor, Mughees Riaz, Mutaib Shah, Omar Farid, RM Naeem, Sana Arjumand and Wahab Jaffar were the other artists whose works are on display. The works encompass various themes including heritage, social discourse, metaphors, realism and landscape.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2014.