Musicians, artisans, photographers celebrate the beauty of Karachi

The festival aims to give the city’s youth an unbiased platform for self-expression.


I Am Karachi - the seven-day Karachi Youth Festival (KYF) kicked off on Sunday, amid much gusto, with the exhibitions of paintings and photographs drawing scores of art lovers and aspiring artists to the Arts Council of Pakistan in Karachi.

The adviser to the provincial chief minister on youth affairs, Faisal Subzwari, Karachi commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, squash legend Jahangir Khan and Arts Council secretary Muhammad Ahmed Shah inaugurated the festival, which is being organised in collaboration with the Sindh youth affairs department. The festival will coincide with the International Youth Day to be celebrated across the world today [August 12].

“The festival aims to provide the youth of Karachi a platform to showcase their unique talent and skills,” said Shah. “We wish to provide equal opportunity to our youth without any discrimination. Here, young people from Defence, Clifton, Surjani, Korangi, Orangi and Lyari have an equal platform to show their skills.”

The festival will comprise competitions of photography, drama, painting, singing, debate, quiz and essay writing in both English and Urdu over seven days. The winner in each category will be given a cash prize of Rs100,000. According to Shah, around 8,000 boys and girls have registered for the festival. Moreover, hundreds of people had made their way to the Arts Council premises for the inauguration of the festival.

The building of the Arts Council itself was adorned with colourful lights. On the left corner of the lawn, a number of young girls and boys were fervently moving their brushes on long canvases. At the end of inaugural ceremony, the canvas wall was turned into a collage-like giant painting - a mixture of painting and calligraphy - a cloth filled with love for Karachi, Pakistan and a banner expressing solidarity and sympathy for the people of Gaza. A group of aspiring singers, aided by their guitars and make-shift drum sets, performed popular Indian songs much to the appreciation of the music lovers who sat behind them.

The Gulrang Hall was occupied by photographers who had skillfully captured the colours and natural beauty of Pakistan. Ahmed Pervaiz Art Gallery’s walls were decked with a plethora of paintings, sketches, calligraphy, landscapes and graphic art depicting the heterogeneity of Karachi and Pakistan. A painting of a village-dweller weaving baskets was appreciated the most by art lovers. “Like the charm of realty in routine life an art, the realistic art has the power to attract people towards itself,” said Tarik Tonki, a senior calligrapher, pointing towards people who were clicking pictures of the painting. The particular painting took Rashid Ali, a young artist of Chakiwari, Lyari, over eight months to make.  “Very few people indulge in realistic art because it is very difficult and takes much more time than the other types,” said the calligrapher, lauding the efforts of the artist from Lyari.

“I wanted to show that our women are equally as skilled as our men,” Ali said about his painting. “Artists can be anywhere. You need to give them chance to bring out their passion on to the canvas,” he remarked, in reaction to the comment of a visitor on Lyari not being a good place for art.

Artist Wajahat Mehdi’s water-colour painting depicted how the computer was gradually taking over the place of the brush in art. The age limit for the participants was between eights to 35 years and artists had been asked to submit their work for the competition on any subject they chose. From Karachi’s beaches to the jam-packed roads and skyscrapers, from its street performers and hardworking labourers to the musicians of Thar, the artists have stamped the aesthetic beauty of the Pakistani culture at the Arts Council for this exhibition.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2014. 

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