Monday, December 24, 2012

Picasso in Pakistan at Gandhara-art Space

Dec 24 - Feb 2, 2013

For the first time in Pakistan, 13 works of Picasso on exhibition at the Gandhara art Space in Krachi.

“Abstract art is only painting. And what’s so dramatic about that? There is no abstract art. One must always begin with something. Afterwards one can remove all semblance of reality; there is no longer any danger as the idea of the object has left an indelible imprint. It is the object which aroused the artist, stimulated his ideas and set of his emotions. These ideas and emotions will be imprisoned in his work for good... Whether he wants it or not, man is the instrument of nature; she imposes on him character and appearance. In my paintings of Dinard, as in my paintings of Purville, I have given expression to more or less the same vision... You cannot go against nature. She is stronger than the strongest of men. We can permit ourselves some liberties, but in details only.” – Pablo Picasso
Boisgeloup, Winter 1934, Quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, pp. 256-257 (translation Daphne Woodward)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pakistan Art Exhibition at Tufts

Illuminated Geographies: Pakistani Miniaturist Practice in the Wake of the Global Turn

January 17 - March 31
Tisch Gallery
Featuring new works by Ambreen Butt, Faiza Butt, Murad Khan Mumtaz, and Saira Wasim. Guest curated by Justine Ludwig, adjunct curator Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati.

The practice of Mughal miniature painting originated during the 16th century in the Mughal Empire, which spanned what is now India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan. This art form was marked by a meticulous attention to minute detail, lush jewel tones, epic subject matter, and diminutive scale. As the Mughal Empire fell into decline, so did this style. Today we are experiencing a renaissance in this mode of artistic expression, due, in large part, to the National College of Art in Lahore, Pakistan (NCA), which since the 1980s has taught this traditional practice of wasli paper- and brush-making techniques, paint mixing, narrative style, and iconography. Two generations of artists have now studied at the NCA and have revived this practice as a relevant contemporary art form by infusing it with their individual visions and contemporary subject matter.

Illuminated Geographies explores how Pakistani miniaturist painting is evolving as it enters into new contexts and how its stylistic foundation is being adapted through four very different artistic visions. This exhibition focuses on four artists trained at the NCA now living outside of Pakistan who are pushing the boundaries of miniaturist practice in different directions. New works by these four artists -- Ambreen Butt, Faiza Butt, Murad Khan Mumtaz, and Saira Wasim -- all deal with themes of cultural hybridity as the artists address the political, social, and cultural realities of both Pakistan and their present locations. Saira Wasim, for example, critiques American politics in the visual language of political cartoons, while Faiza Butt addresses the representation of Muslim men in the London media and the aesthetic qualities of the Urdu and English languages. Through beauty these artists ask difficult question and confront us with the realities of the world we live in.

This exhibition has been guest curated by Justine Ludwig, adjunct curator at the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati. A 168-page multi-authored publication will be co-published in February 2013 by the Tufts University Art Gallery and The Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, which organized Realms of Intimacy: Miniaturist Practice from Pakistan (on view September 2011 to January 2012; featuring Ambreen Butt, Faiza Butt, Imran Qureshi, Nusra Qureshi, and Saira Wasim). It will also feature 18 contemporary artists trained at the NCA working internationally.

Ambreen Butt

         Faiza Butt

         Saira Wasim

        Murad Khan Mumtaz


Monday, December 10, 2012

Aisha Khalid Whitworth Art Gallery Manchester - Video

Click the bottom right box on the screen above to make it full screen.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Zarina: Paper Like Skin is the first retrospective of the Indian-born American artist Zarina Hashmi

Zarina: Paper Like Skin is the first retrospective of the Indian-born American artist Zarina, featuring approximately 60 works dating from 1961 to the present. Paper is central to Zarina’s practice, both as a surface to print on and as a material with its own properties and history. Works in the exhibition include woodcuts as well as three-dimensional casts in paper pulp. Zarina’s vocabulary is minimal yet rich in associations with her life and the themes of displacement and exile. The concept of home—whether personal, geographic, national, spiritual, or familial—resonates throughout her oeuvre. Organized by Allegra Pesenti, curator, Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts.

Paper Like Skin reveals the breadth of Zarina’s vision and the versatility of her practice,” explains Hammer director Ann Philbin. “It joins a series of survey exhibitions organized by the Hammer that highlight important but under recognized female artists such as Lee Bontecou and most recently Alina Szapocznikow. The presentation of Zarina’s work also emphasizes the museum’s commitment to the study and collection of works on paper through its Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts.”

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Art Radar Journal - Govett-Brewster brings South Asian art to New Zealand audiences: “Sub-Topical Heat” picture feast

November 28, 2012

New Zealand’s Govett-Brewster Art Gallery recently concluded its fifth show in an exhibition series on contemporary Asian art.

“Sub-Topical Heat: New Art from South Asia” closed on 4 November 2012 at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Zealand. Nine South Asian artists showcased their artworks, a selection that included artist books, drawings, installations, miniature paintings, sculptures, photography, photo-media and video art.
Installation view of Gigi Scaria artworks in Govett-Brewster Gallery. Image Courtesy Govett-Brewster Gallery.
Installation view of Gigi Scaria artworks in Govett-Brewster Gallery. Image courtesy Govett-Brewster Gallery.

“Sub-Topical Heat”: Regional concerns

“Sub-Topical Heat: New Art from South Asia” forms part of a series of contemporary Asian art exhibitions held at the Govett-Brewster in Taranaki, a city on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island. As Director Rhana Devenport explained in an email interview with Art Radar, ....... read more
 Imran Qureshi, ‘Threatened’, 2010, Gouache on wasli paper. Image Courtesy the artist and Collection of Amna and Ali Naqvi.
Imran Qureshi, ‘Threatened’, 2010, Gouache on wasli paper.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Imran Qureshi named Deutsche Bank's "Artist of the Year" 2013 


Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi (b.1972) was announced the winner of the award in Berlin, where his works will be shown in a major solo presentation at the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle in spring 2013. The award is based on recommendations of the Deutsche Bank Global Art Advisory Council, which includes internationally renowned curators Okwui Enwezor, Hou Hanru, Udo Kittelmann, and Victoria Noorthoorn and honors artists whose work “addresses social issues in an individual way and has created an outstanding oeuvre that concentrates on the two focal points of the Deutsche Bank Collection: works on paper and photography”. Qureshi follows previous winners Wangechi Mutu in 2010, Yto Barrada in 2011, and Roman Ondák in 2012. Trained in miniature painting, Qureshi works from the motifs, symbolism, and ornaments of the Moghul tradition that flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries in the north of the Indian subcontinent.

Imran Qureshi is Assistant Professor at the Department of Fine Art, National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan, where he teaches miniature painting. His works have been shown in solo and group exhibitions and collected across Japan, India, the UK, the US, Australia and Pakistan. Qureshi has been involved in international contemporary art surveys on South Asia, notably the exhibition East–West Divan: Contemporary Art from Afghanistan, Iran & Pakistan at the Venice Biennale 2009. He has created large scale installations in architectural spaces at the Singapore Biennial, the Asia Society Museum in New York and most recently on Cockatoo Island as part of the Biennale of Sydney 2012. Qureshi won the Artists Prize for his site-specific installation Blessings upon the Land of My Love at the 2011 Sharjah Biennale, United Arab Emirates.
Imran Qureshi, installation view, 2006. Photo: Sharjah Art Foundation.
Imran Qureshi, Portraits-8 2007. Courtesy the artist and Collection of Amna and Ali Naqvi.
Imran Qureshi, Moderate Enlightenment, 2009, opaque watercolour and gold leaf on wasli paper, 51 x2 4 cm. Collection of Ali and Amna Naqvi.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Imran Qureshi's Artist Video for Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year 2013


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Violence, Beauty, Hope: Imran Qureshi is Deutsche Bank's “Artist of the Year” 2013
Courtesy: Art Mag.

He’s considered one of Pakistan’s most important artists. Imran Qureshi will be presented in spring of 2013 with a large solo exhibition at the “Deutsche Bank KunstHalle”. The KunstHalle will also open with this show. Oliver Koerner von Gustorf on Qureshi’s unique work, which has radically renewed the centuries-old tradition of miniature painting while addressing highly relevant social themes.
Like beads strung on invisible threads, rain falls in precise lines from golden-hued clouds which part to reveal a patch of deep blue sky: Moderate Enlightenment, Imran Qureshi’sseries of miniature paintings made between 2006 and 2009, presents an infinitely detailed, wondrous world. Everything in it seems delicate to the point of fragility—the blades of grass poking out of the earth, the ornamental branches and vines of the bushes and trees that intertwine to create frames and patterns. The young men and women in this microcosm also seem tender and introverted, dreamily blowing soap bubbles and flower petals into the air, opening their umbrellas, or taking walks, immersed in their solitude. Their style of clothing indicates that they are of the Muslim faith. The watercolor scenes seem so light and carefree that they have to be contained in gold leaf and ornamentation in order not to fly away. A lost paradise, one might say; a look at the spiritual unity of man and nature, a traditional, comprehensible world in which everything is intact and in its place.

But this nostalgic sentiment is far too simple, as becomes clear at second glance. Qureshi counters the initial impression of the sublime and near-antiquity with the insignia of a global leisure culture: his protagonists carry messenger bags, wear cargo shorts and camouflage T-shirts. The practical military look is a clear fashion statement. In combination with religion and spirituality, however, it quickly brings fanaticism to mind. Taking these “modern” signs into consideration when looking at Qureshi’s paintings, they are no longer as formally clear. Abstraction lies hidden beneath the ornament. The gold, which quickly evokes associations to religion, could also be the gold that western artists like Yves Klein, James Lee Byars, and Andy Warhol brought back into vogue in the second half of the 20th century.

... read more



Imran Qureshi - in Berlin - Spring 2013

..... read more

Self-portrait, 2009, Gold leaf and opaque watercolour on wasli paper, 27x34.5cm


Monday, November 12, 2012

Imran Qureshi - “Artist of the Year” 2013 at Deutsche Bank KunstHalle

CONGRATULATIONS to  Imran Qureshi on becoming not only the first Pakistani but also the first Asian artist selected for this prestigious award. Way to go Imran Qureshi !!!!

Imran Qureshi: "Artist of the Year" 2013 at Deutsche Bank KunstHalle
Imran Qureshi in his studio. Photo: Hassam Rana. © Hassam Rana.
Imran Qureshi is Deutsche Bank’s “Artist of the Year” 2013. A focus on young art: like its corporate collection, Deutsche Bank’s award, the “Artist of the Year”, is committed to the present. The aim is to acquaint a wide public with new and exciting artistic positions. Based on a recommendation of the Deutsche Bank Global Art Advisory Council, which includes internationally renowned curators Okwui Enwezor, Hou Hanru, Udo Kittelmann, and Victoria Noorthoorn, the bank honors an auspicious artist who addresses social issues in an individual way and has created an outstanding oeuvre that concentrates on the two focal points of the Deutsche Bank Collection: works on paper and photography. The selection was announced in Berlin, where Qureshi’s works will be shown in a major solo presentation at the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle in spring 2013.
Following the end of its 15-year collaboration with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle continues to develop the original format of the space together with various different cooperation partners to introduce new international positions that have not previously been offered a platform in Berlin. The Deutsche Bank Collection will be also be present in thematic exhibitions.

Following Wangechi Mutu in 2010, Yto Barrada in 2011, and Roman Ondák in 2012, the Deutsche Bank Global Art Advisory Council chose Imran Qureshi as one of the most important figures on Pakistan’s art scene today. Trained in miniature painting, the 1972-born artist works from the motifs, symbolism, and ornaments of the Moghul tradition that flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries in the north of the Indian subcontinent. Qureshi utilizes old Islamic forms of art and expands them to become a contemporary means of expression, combining traditional motifs and techniques with conceptual thought and contemporary abstract painting in unique ways. Qureshi includes his own observations on the reality of today’s Pakistan into his work—reflections on the relationship between the West and the Islamic world.

In Qureshi’s work, an investigation into ornamentation is both a reference to tradition and a vehicle for criticism: of constricting role models, violent political and religious systems, stereotypes, and conventions. He also transposes the form of miniature painting into site-specific installations in architectural space, addressing both the building itself and its historical and political connotations. His art delves into the constant alternation between violence and hope, destruction and creation, and calls for peaceful resistance and optimism in difficult times.

Imran Qureshi: "Artist of the Year" 2013 at Deutsche Bank KunstHalle

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saffronart Blog : The Art of Imran Qureshi

Guest blogger, Sayantan Mukhopadhyay reflects on Imran Qureshi’s Moderate Enlightenment series of paintings

Imran Qureshi: Moderate Enlightenment, 2007, Gouache on Wasli, 8.5 x 6.5 in
From: Saffronart’s 24 Hour Auction: Art of Pakistan, Lot 31
Exhibited and published: Hanging Fire: Contemporary Art from Pakistan, 2009-10
New York: As contemporary art hurtles further into its characteristic world of postmodern diffusion – where national categories give way to dissolving borders and trans-regional connections – potent markers of heritage serve as reminders of mooring and place.

Imran Qureshi has stated the importance belonging plays in his art and his Moderate Enlightenment series reveals a keen interest in re-pitching a distinctly South Asian artistic vernacular, paying homage to tradition and the importance of history in visual storytelling. The miniature – an art form that has been devoted exclusively to portraiture and the human form – is an encounter with an individual. In its historical use, important imperial or divine figureheads would be richly painted and ornamented with gold leaf, allowing inquisitive eyes a point of access into the court or the heavens.
Qureshi paints intimate portraits of religious men and finds a quiet anxiety with contemporary Pakistan therein: seemingly mundane images of men turn into hidden symbols of social unrest. These post-9/11 treatises search to understand how perceptions of zealotry can be influenced by fashion and posture. In his use of the miniature, he highlights the issue as a South Asian one, fixed at once to geography and culture, but also one that is fiercely contemporary. Here, Orientalist fantasies of Pakistan cede to modern concerns and pressing international affairs.

Qureshi’s dexterous mastery over the miniature is a testament to his need to find a global voice laden with legacy. In a painstaking process that requires deft use of fine brushes, miniatures must be held close to the artist’s eyes to ensure accurate detailing. The artist’s inestimable skill earned him a place in the Asia Society’s iconic exhibit of contemporary Pakistani art, “Hanging Fire,” in 2009/10. He later went on to win the Sharjah Art Prize in 2011, establishing him as one of Pakistan’s most important stars today. Refusing to be titled reductively as a ‘Miniature Painter,’ he has shown himself to be a versatile artist, his large-scale installation pieces proving him comfortable with media either big or small. An artist to watch and to follow, Qureshi lets us catch glimpses of a Pakistan through visions grounded there but equally aware of the world at large.

Pakistan art makes a good debut at the first dedicated art auction

Pakistan's first dedicated art auction at Saffronart made a reasonable debut at the recently concluded on-line auction. While the overall percentage of lots sold was a mediocre 46%, some of the aritsts' works were sold at the highest prices ever achieved for their works in an auction. 
Saffron's announcement of a dedicated Pakistan art auction had created a lot of excitement amongst the art circles. People who follow Pakistan art clearly have the view that the art coming out of the country is much more interesting, in depth, experimental and diverse then a number of its peers in the region. But it is underrepresented at the global level (like most good things from Pakistan!). Saffronart's move therefore created hopes of raising Pakistan art's profile beyond its traditional avenues (galleries in Pakistan and a handful outside Pakistan). The auction was preceded by a number of articles and talks arranged by the auction house to raise awareness.
For a country, starving for good news, a positive buzz and excitement about this auction was natural !
The excitement was accompanied by a lot of anxiety and nervousness too. Tough global economic environment especially in India was one of the concerns.The nervousness rose further when the details of the auction were announced a couple of weeks before the auction itself. The number of works avaliable seemed too large (70) and so was the broad diversity of artists represented in the auction. The price estimates appeared aggressive too, especially for artists who have had no strong international exposure. This was probably driven by the fact that most of the works came from commercial concerns like Aicon Gallery, Canvas Gallery and Asal Collection (Green Cardamom) rather than directly from collectors.
Amongst this backdrop, the auction did well. Out of the total 70 lists available, 46 were sold, achieving a 66%. In total Pakistan art worth US$310,883 was sold sat the auction.  
Total lots in auction
Lots sold
Total Winning Value (inclusive of buyer's premium)

 The top lots by value were dominated by the known names like Jamil Naqsh, Imran Qureshi and Rashid Rana. A number of new artists made it into the most expensive list, like Ali Kazim, Saira Wasim and Bani Abdi.  

There were also a number of artists who made their auction records by achieving the highest selling price ever for their work in this auction. These artists include Imran Qureshi, Ali Kazim, Bani Abidi and Saira Wasim. 

Top 10 Lots by Value
Lot No
Artist Name
Winning Value (US$)
Jamil Naqsh
Imran Qureshi
Moderate Enlightenment
Rashid Rana
Ommatidia II (Salman Khan)
Ali Kazim
Red Taveez
Anwar Jalal Shemza
Male + Female
Shazia Sikander
Let It Ride # 3
Saira Wasim
Passion Cycle
Bani Abidi
Intercommunication Devices
Ali Kazim
Ahmed Parvez
We hope to see this auction becoming a regular feature. To Saffronart, our recommendation will be to focus on a smaller number of works (30-40), more focused artist pool, add approximately 10% items with a  substantially higher ticket per item and a little of the Masters too (but staying away from the fake factory!).
While the results of tihs auction can be best described as mixed, we see the glass half full rather than half empty. We view the start of this auction as another another push towards the slow but positive momentum of Pakistan's art development at the global stage. Christies now gives a much broader space to Pakistan art, Bonhams has been pushing Paksitan art for year, Yamini Mehta's move to Sothebys is sure to provide more filip to Pakistan art presence at their auctions. slowly, there is critical mass being developed. Pakistan art space in 2015 will look very different from now. We hope to enjoy that journey together with you !

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Larger Than Life - Aisha Khalid's Exhibition at Whitworth Gallery


6 October 2012 – 27 January 2013

Lahore-based Aisha Khalid is one of Pakistan’s leading contemporary artists. She is part of a generation that has revitalised the traditional medium of miniature painting by juxtaposing decorative surfaces with deep socio-political subtexts around ideas about cultural expectations and stereotyping, the oppression of women and global politics in the aftermath of 9/11.

Embroidery is also a recurring theme in Khalid’s work, reflecting her familiarity with the embroidery traditions of regions such as Sind and Punjab. At the Whitworth the artist will be working on a large site-specific project examining the relationship between hand and machine embroidery. She will ‘embroider’ the bricks and mortar of one of the Gallery’s double height walls with a repeating pattern of roses, and display a new body of large paintings that explore the artist’s experiences of life and spirituality.