LAHORE: Pakistani artists should increase interaction with their peers in the neighbouring countries rather than look towards the west all the time for inspiration, Prof (r) Mian Ijazul Hassan said on Monday.
He was speaking as the guest of honour at an exhibition titled Reverberation that started at Unicorn Gallery on Sunday to mark the launch of the facility. The gallery was inaugurated by cricketer Zaheer Abbas, the ICC chairman.
The exhibition featured works of two international artists Jean-Claude Novaro, a French glass blower, and Senaka Senanayake, a Sri Lankan painter.
Hassan said he was pleased to find the works of a Sri Lankan artist displayed at the gallery. “Sri Lanka has produced great artists. Artists in Pakistan should study their work,” he said. He said Novaro, who died recently, had been renowned the world over for his glasswork skills.
“I think the Unicorn Gallery is a splendid addition to the city’s arts scene. It has done a great job of promoting fine arts in Karachi” he said.
Painter RM Naeem said the country needed more creative ventures to project a positive image and hoped that the opening of the gallery would be helpful in this regard. He said the manner in which the gallery was taken forward would determine if it would have a positive impact. “One has to do business but it is also important to be mindful of one’s social responsibility,” he said. Senanayake is visiting Pakistan for the first time. Seemah Niaz, the gallery owner, said the artist had 104 exhibitions to his credit. “His work is displayed at the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan museums” she said.
“Novaro is known as king of glass. I saw his works and met him in Dubai some years ago,” she said.
Niaz said when she returned to the country and displayed his work at her gallery, more than 20 pieces were sold on the first day. “His name has been mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest hand blown coupe ever made” she said.
Other artists whose work is on display at the gallery are Owais Husain, son of MF Husain; Hajra Mansoor; AS Rind; Moazzam Ali; and Mansoor Rahi.
Niaz said she had started the gallery in Karachi 13 years ago. She said she and her son, Mansoor Halim, had decided to launch a similar venture in Lahore ‘to broaden their horizons’.
Niaz said she had completed her education in Lahore and moved to Karachi after her marriage. “I have taught English language at various schools in the city for 12 years. I would frequent art exhibitions during my free time. My passion for arts eventually led me to open a gallery,” she said. She said even before deciding to open the gallery in Lahore she had found a clientele in the city.
Niaz said she had intended to study fine arts at college but ended up joining an English literature programme. “The English department at my college was close to the fine arts department. I spent more time in the fine arts department and developed friendships there,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 3rd, 2015.