Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Artist Project: Shahzia Sikander @ the Met

The Artist Project: Shahzia Sikander

Shahzia Sikander on Persian miniature painting
"My interest was to understand the social construct of the so-called 'traditional genre.'"

The Artist Project is a 2015 online series in which we give artists an opportunity to respond to our encyclopedic collection.

The Artist Project: Shahzia Sikander from MMA Digital Media on Vimeo.


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Financial Times - Imran Khan in his Islamabad mansion

Politician and cricket legend Imran Khan in his Islamabad mansion


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Mustansar Hussain Tarar and Imran Qureshi together in one book

Good to see contemporary art getting assimilated into quality Urdu literature too .......


REVIEW: Pandra Kahaniyan by Mustansar Hussain Tarar

Source: Dawn
Pandra Kahaniyan

By Mustansar Hussain Tarar
HAD he been a painter, Mustansar Hussain Tarar would have surely specialised in painting murals. He loves to paint big and in his own world of words, the tendency is expressed in the shape of novels. More than a dozen novels and just a lone collection of short stories thus far leave no doubt as to where his heart has been all these years. Against this backdrop, his latest offering, Pandra Kahaniyan, is set to give his readers a taste they had more than a quarter of a century ago.

Despite being a collection of short stories, the book still has a common thread running through it and together the stories do create a single image which in many ways is larger than the sum of its parts. It is as if Tarar has painted a mural with a horde of miniatures — like someone building a Sheesh Mahal with tiny, contoured pieces of mirrors that reflect a single image both individually and collectively. It is quite interesting actually.

Award-winning novelist Mohsin Hamid talks cultural identity

Award-winning novelist Mohsin Hamid applied his life and work to the exploration of globalization while speaking to Lehigh students on the evening of Sept. 9.

“Things are changing much more rapidly than they once did and that creates in us an anxiety,” Hamid said. “We often speak of globalization as a way of talking about that anxiety.”

To explore this transnational and cross-cultural anxiety, Hamid shared life experiences and used his novels Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. With dual citizenship in Pakistan and the United Kingdom, along with 18 years of residency in the United States, Hamid has related his personal findings to characters within his books to further examine one’s self and personal identity.

“In this face of a globalized life, I wanted to make sense of things,” Hamid said.

It was with that inspiration that gave birth to his first novel, Moth Smoke, which follows a Pakistani man through various life struggles. Hamid’s ability to write about a Pakistani man through the perspective of an American made him aware of what he calls the “similarity phenomenon.”
He said due to globalization, the superficial comparisons that often happen with cultural differences are being replaced with the idea that young Americans do act similarly to young Pakistanis.
However, after the events of Sept. 11, Hamid’s world dramatically changed as he saw the “reassertion of tribalism” ensue on a global level. Being a hybridized Pakistani American was no longer socially acceptable. He was forced to pick a side just as Islamism and Americanism become two mutually exclusive entities.

Distinguished author Mohsin Hamid gives a talk to Lehigh students in the Rauch Perella Auditorium on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. The presentation was part of the Critical Globalization lecture series that is promoting a social change initiative. (Nadine Elsayed/B&W photo)
Distinguished author Mohsin Hamid gives a talk to Lehigh students in the Rauch Perella Auditorium on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. The presentation was part of the Critical Globalization lecture series that is promoting a social change initiative. (Nadine Elsayed/B&W photo)

Living as a Pakistani American in a post-Sept. 11 world inspired The Reluctant Fundamentalist. The format of the novel forces readers to trust their gut and make a decision, without enough information, about the main character. Hamid compares this decision one must make as a reader with the decisions all humans must all make as they all face a world where decisions must be made with incomplete information. He said it is through these decisions that we find our true self and identity.
“It was interesting hearing him speak about the effect Sept. 11 had on his everyday life and how those experiences shaped The Reluctant Fundamentalist even though he began writing the book before the event,” Ellen Moroney, ’16, said.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Shahzia Sikander writes on the Princely Deer Hunters

Shahzia Sikander and Princely Deer Hunters (ca. 1660 – 70) 

September 8, 2015

Source: The Brooklyn Rail

When I look at old paintings, I am less interested to read where they are from, and instead respond more instinctively. It might be my mood at the time or one little thing I’m obsessed with in my own work, and I might try to locate that within a given painting. When looking at this painting of the deer hunt, I zoomed right into the paint’s topography. The rendered range and deliberation of the brush within the work is vast given its small scale, especially in the contrast between the starkly designed and composed two central riders and their horses against the softness of the landscape and the enveloping light. I also like the unexpected use of a device, gold for example, a fairly rigid medium and color transforms into a beautifully lucid and fluid agent here against the horizon line, functioning as a catalyst of transition between the highly stylized and the abstract. Utilizing a strategy for creating something unpredictable frees the artist from prescribed techniques and allows for greater range.

Princely Deer Hunters, India, Deccan ca. 1660 – 70. Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper. 9 1/2 × 17 15/16 in. Collection of Mrs. Stuart Cary Welch, New Hampshire.
But strategy in general can be quite obvious in this work. There is a quality in this painting where the painter is not just imposing an aesthetic on the world. As Alex Nagel pointed out when we looked at it together, the world he is painting is a courtly world that is itself already designed. The world of these painters is already staged, so the framing and presentation of a composition will often reflect a kind of rhythmic space as a result. In this painting, for example, we know the whole hunting exercise is an orchestrated one. The horses’ manes are braided in a particular way, the riders are dressed just so—a sport, but on display. At times when I see a work that doesn’t have these aesthetic impositions, glitches where the art rejects formal protocols, it’s quite beautiful in some unexpected manner. For example, when brushwork gets to a point of liquidity where it’s not even brushwork anymore, as in the turbulent sky, reminiscent of marbled paper. There’s a certain dynamism in the way things dry when they’ve left liquid to form as it will.

The visual interest occurs when the artist takes liberties within more classical compositions. Not everything has to be fully defined or embellished. A type of in-between looseness can be very effective. The simplicity of line and form in rendering the deer is not only precise in sentiment but helps capture the animals as a panic-stricken herd. I am also curious about the “damaged” aspects of this painting, the way color relationships can create ambiguity in whether or not something is intentional. The painting possesses a calibrated modulation across its visual surface. The entire surface of this painting is visually intense, especially the juxtaposition of colors. The question, then, is how to engage the depth in the work. One is looking into a painting, not just looking at an object. One is invited to expand inward or “into” the scene and one can enter from any point on the painting’s surface.

When I study, I usually cut a small square out of a blank sheet of paper and then place the square over a reference area as a way to find unexpected details. In observing this painting, I studied the spaces between forms and the landscape around it as well as the space between colors. I also use a magnifying glass to dig deeper. With high magnification, details invisible to the naked eye start emerging. Layers of drawing under the painting can unexpectedly appear. This way of investigating is fascinating, as it also helps to break down the preciousness of the work. The hand of the artist, the back-and-forth of the line in illustrating a form, reveal the process of painting itself. In examining the deer in particular, I could see how closely their forms come together and separate, how their bodies evolve, how a formal dynamic is created with the line. There is usually a lot more liberty in the underlying drawing. The sketched lines are eventually refined to become just one careful line instead of a small sketch. The forms are not just stock figures thrown in.

My favorite part of this painting is its composition. I like how the center is so manicured while the edges collect the clutter. It hints at a bigger world beyond what is depicted.

Contributor: Shahzia Sikander; SHAHZIA SIKANDER is an artist. She lives in New York.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

China Exhibition at the Met becomes the most popular Fashion Show ever

'China: Through the looking Glass' has attracted almost 800,000 visitors so far and has become the most popular fashion show ever at the Met, overtaking Alexander McQueen's 'Savage Beauty' exhibited in 2011.

Artwallaa was fortunate enough to visit this exhibition which was exceptional not only because of the beauty of the objects, its flawless curation, its impactful size (spread over 16 galleries), brilliant use of technology (with beautiful videos / music /animations), but also because it literally transports you into a fantasy old China world which all of us non-Chinese want to experience.

The exhibition closes in a couple of days. So, if you are in that nook of the world, don't miss it.

Top 10 most popular exhibits in the Met's history (The above exhibition will become a top 5 on this list):

1.'Treasures of Tutankhamun,          '12/78-4/79,                          1,360,957 visitors
2. 'Mona Lisa,                                   ' 2/63-3/63,                           1,077,521visitors
3.'The Vatican Collections: The Papacy and Art' 2/83-5/83,         896,743 visitors
4. 'Painters in Paris:                          1895-1950,' 3/00-1/01,          883,620 visitors
5.'Origins of Impressionism,             '9/94-1/95,                             794,108 visitors
6. 'The Horses of San Marco,            '2/80-8/80,                             742,221 visitors
7.'Picasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, '4/10-8/10,           703,256 visitors
8.'Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty,'5/11-8/11,                        661,509 visitors
9.'Jeff Koons on the Roof,                 '4/08-10/08,                           657,801 visitors
10. 'Doug + Mike Starn on the Roof: Big BambĂș,' 4/10-10/10,      631,064 visitors

And last but not the least, Imran Qureshi's Roof Top exhibition in 2013 also had attracted close to 400,000 (395,000) visitors too (read more on it here).

Enjoy !

 Stars Come Together for the Met Gala with the China Exhibition theme. Source: The Echo


‘China: Through The Looking Glass’ Is The Met’s Most Popular Fashion Show Ever

September 5, 2015
Almost 800,000 people have seen the blockbuster exhibition, beating out the previous biggest hit on Alexander McQueen.
The first rule of creating a blockbuster exhibition is pretty simple: stop trying to create a blockbuster exhibition.

Andrew Bolton, curator of the Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, should know. His latest hit, China: Through the Looking Glass, has been his most successful and ambitious show yet. After being awarded a three-week extension, it will be taking its final bow on Monday. That’s right: if you haven’t joined this party, it’s about time you head to the Met.
As of September 1, more than 761,000 visitors have walked the galleries of the transformed Asian Art wing and been transported into a fantasy version of China, where high fashion, movies, music, and objects of art have been combined to produce something that is more immersive performance than traditional art exhibition.

To put the show’s success into perspective, the Costume Center’s former biggest hit (and previously the eighth biggest show of all time at the Met), was 2011’s Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, which was received with almost universal applause by critics and guests alike and became infamous for the length of the lines the 661,509 visitors endured. (While it was also extended, the McQueen show’s final run was about a month less than current exhibit’s will be.)

“We never set out to do a blockbuster,” Bolton, 48, tells The Daily Beast. “I mean the McQueen show surprised us. The fact that we were so ill-prepared for all the lines shows you we weren’t prepared for it.”

But with Alexander McQueen, the Met was working with a designer who was not only well known and well respected within the fashion industry, but who also had name recognition outside of it.
In a way, the popularity of the current exhibit was an even bigger surprise, because it started with an exhibition name that, Bolton acknowledges, was a bit “opaque.”

“The show was about a fantasy, it really wasn’t about the real China, it was the China that exists as a collective fantasy,” Bolton says. “By enhancing people’s experiences through cinema, through music, it was a way of getting that idea across that it really was China: Through the Looking Glass, where everything is topsy-turvy and back to front and upside down…to me, it was important to transport people into this fantasy.”

The show succeeds as a fantastic transportation into another world, and, at the same time, a thoughtful and complex investigation into the inspiration, creativity, and two-way dialogue between East and West.

Wuxia Ensemble, Jean Paul Gaultier (French, born 1952), autumn/winter 2001-2.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Visitors enter the ground floor of the exhibition (the actual space of the Costume Institute) and walk into an experience that is akin to the sensory overload of a theme park; noise, color, moving images, and the brilliant, opulent visuals of ancient Manchu robes and the high-fashion looks they inspired surround viewers, resulting in a delightfully disorienting feeling. Two giant screens face each other in the middle of the large room, playing films by both Western and Chinese directors and throwing off bright, moving lights, almost like at a runway show. One little girl and her mother embraced the effect, twirling and twirling through the middle of the screens in their very own performance.

The exhibition is broken up into themed galleries that are both visually appealing and educational. Some rooms address specific aspects of Chinese culture—like calligraphy and perfume—and Chinese fashion traditions like the Manchu robe, qipao, and Chinese textiles. Others are dedicated to designers who found specific artistic inspiration in China and embraced Chinoiserie, like Yves Saint Laurent (in one of Bolton’s favorite rooms). Another gallery situates a careful selection of fashion pieces among ancient artifacts that are permanently located in the space.

In each of the rooms, the objects of artistic inspiration are carefully placed side-by-side with the designs they helped inspire to create a dialogue between the two cultures. In the qipao room, for instance, Chinese-designed qipaos are lined up in a row on one side of the room, the Western interpretations inspired by them on the other.

Bolton says one of the most popular rooms is the Porcelain Room, a gorgeous and calming retreat that houses an impressive array of blue-and-white porcelain pieces in a glass case across from a striking collection of blue-and-white couture. There are gowns by John Galliano, Karl Lagerfeld, and Rodarte, among others. But a more literal crossover happens in two pieces: a sculpture by Chinese artist Li Xiaofeng takes the form of a dress made entirely out of pieces of blue-and-white porcelain and sits across from a jaw-dropping, but wearable, gown by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen that features a bodice made of broken porcelain pieces over a delicate, ruffled white silk organza skirt with a long train.

Guo Pei Evening gown, Guo Pei (Chinese, born 1967), spring/summer 2007 haute couture.
Metropolitan Museum of Art

“I think, for the first time, we had the ability to show the source material, to show the actual references, because of the objects we have in the museum,” Bolton says. “It allows you different entry points into the exhibition. So, Chinese scholars initially enter the show through the Chinese objects, and then they look at the fashion. Fashion students and fashion followers look at the fashion first and then they look at the Chinese objects…the bridge between the two has been the film.”
The result of this entertaining and accessible, but still intelligent, effect has been an exhibition that has clearly struck a cord with the public.

The runaway success can be seen and felt just walking through the galleries. The word “mindboggling” escaped in English as two middle-aged men speaking a Nordic-sounding language walked through the Manchu robe room. And a young girl who was no more than four years old summed up the mood nicely when she looked at a design by Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent and exclaimed, “Wow, what a pretty dress! I love it!”

Looking around at the crowd, it’s clear this may be one of the more diverse groups that have attended a single exhibition. Pretty much every age, gender, and nationality seems to be represented, and the excitement is palpable. Bolton says that the last time he saw this many men at one of the Costume Center’s shows was the Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy exhibition in 2008.

In addition to the diversity the show has attracted, Bolton says one of the most “heartwarming” responses is the “sense of pride that the Chinese community felt with the exhibition…that’s the main reaction we’ve had from the Chinese community is a sense of pride in their own culture, their own history, and its impact on the West.”

Bolton says it’s tough to put a finger on why this exhibition took off when others haven’t had quite the same response. As befits our current social media age, he says word of mouth has been key. But the exhibit is also timely.

“Obviously, China’s on everyone’s minds,” Bolton says. “It’s been on people’s minds for many years, but I think that the cultural importance of China is just increasing—and the financial importance.”

Whatever the reason for the influx of people, it’s been a huge boon for the Met, and for the fashion side of the debate over whether fashion should be considered art.

At a September 2 book signing with Anna Wintour for the exhibition, Bolton says he met several attendees who had come from international destinations like England and Mexico solely to see the show. (He also met one man who said he had come “so far” for the event…all the way from New Jersey). And it is undoubtedly drawing in new visitors to the Met who may not have visited the museum before. They come for the fashion, but hopefully they become repeat museum-goers.
“This is actually my twentieth time coming [to this exhibit],” Andre, 19, says as he waits in line to get his book signed. Andre says he’s visited the Met before; he comes “just for the Costume Center” but adds “the Temple of Dendur is pretty good too.”

Bolton has had to work to convince the traditional art world—both those at the Met and the larger art press—that fashion has a place in museums. The blockbuster success of the McQueen show—in addition to many of McQueen’s more sculpture-like designs, like his razor-clam shell dress—have helped create a “paradigm shift” that is more inclusive to fashion. But there’s still a lot of work to be done.

“I think sometimes they see the functionality of fashion. So that when they see the pragmatics of fashion, they can’t see the artistry behind it,” Bolton says. “I think they need to work harder at that.”
To be fair, some fashion insiders, including designers like Miuccia Prada, have been outspoken in their belief that fashion is not art. But Bolton (who thinks Prada is “one of the most important designers in the last thirty years”) is firmly on the “pro” side of this debate.

“Very much [fashion is art and should be included in the art canon]. I mean not all, just as not all art should be either,” he continues. “There’s a lot of bad art out there. There’s a lot of bad fashion out there. But when you come across fashion that is artistic, everyone responds to it.”

And that is what Bolton is trying to bring to the Met: a roster of shows that will engage and excite an audience and show them the true artistry of fashion. He’s not focused on creating the next Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty or China: Through the Looking Glass—although it is nice when that happens.

“We never ever set out to create a blockbuster. It doesn’t inform our judgment in terms of the shows we put on,” Bolton says. Instead, he thinks about how a new show can “speak to our visitors, it has to seem relevant and timely.”


China: Through the Looking Glass show breaks Metropolitan museum record

Source: The Guardian

Chinese fashion exhibition is most visited ever at New York Metropolitan museum of art’s costume institute, smashing record set by McQueen show

Art work by Andy Warhol and a dress by Vivienne Tam are displayed as part of China Through the Looking Glass at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Photograph: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

A New York exhibition exploring Chinese influence on western fashion has become a summer smash-hit, attracting a record 670,000 visitors in a sign of China’s growing clout in America.
There is an array of cinematic clips. The shoulders of an Yves Saint Laurent evening jacket have been picked out in the pattern on a fifth-century BC bronze vessel. The decoration on a 1950s Dior dress is inspired by Chinese calligraphy drawn from a poem complaining about a stomach ache.

China was also the theme of this year’s Met Ball, which kicked off the exhibition and acts as the institute’s annual fundraiser, the most glittering event in New York high society.

“I think China is something everybody is interested in,” Hearn said. “To see how China has been an obsession, certainly a source of inspiration for centuries is something that really comes across.”
After French and Spanish, Chinese is the most sought-after language at US secondary schools, he said. There is also a huge influx of Chinese tourists, who want to see how China is represented in a western museum, he added.

The US department of commerce projects visitor growth from China will increase by 172% to 3.1 million visitors by 2019.

“For the Chinese to come here and see their culture in the context of Asia and beyond, I think that’s why this show must be very interesting and even provocative for them,” Hearn said. “It’s showing them that China has had an historical impact on the west.”

The exhibit focuses on the influence of Chinese aesthetics on western fashion and looks back at some of the history of Chinese design.

The exhibit focuses on the influence of Chinese aesthetics on western fashion and looks back at some of the history of Chinese design. Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA

The Costume Institute reopened last year, named after Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, who has raised more than $125m for the centre since becoming trustee of the Met in 1999.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is New York’s most visited museum, welcoming 6.2 million people last year.

China: Through the Looking Glass is so far the museum’s eighth most visited exhibition in history, a spokeswoman said.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Shahzia Sikander's Parallax on both sides of the Atlantic

After the inauguration of its exhibition in the Guggenheim Bilbao (Jul 16- Nov 22), Shahzia Sikander's Parallax will also be shown at the Art Gallery of Tufts University (Sep  10-Dec 6).

This experience is not to be missed and cannot be enjoyed even partially through images and/or on small screens.

Hope you are able to experience it !

Source: Photography Now

Shahzia Sikander: Parallax

Source: Tufts Art Gallery

September 10 – December 6, 2015
Tisch Family Gallery

Internationally-recognized artist Shahzia Sikander (b. 1969, Pakistan) presents her first immersive animation Parallax, with music and sound by composer Du Yun, conceived in the United Arab Emirates and first appearing at the Sharjah Biennale in 2013. Related paintings, drawings, and photographs are also included in the Tufts exhibition.

Shahzia Sikander
Parallax, 2013
Three-channel color animation with sound, 15 min and 30 sec Music by Du Yun
Music by Du Yun
© Shahzia Sikander. Courtesy of Sikander Studio

    Inspired by the U.A.E.'s unique geography and culture at the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, Sikander's 15-minute animation is constructed from hundreds of drawings and paintings, in which abstract, representational, and textual forms coexist and jostle for domination. Themes of dissonance and disruption echo the power tensions that have characterized the region's modern history as a British protectorate and the U.A.E.’s establishment as a nation state in 1971.

    Mesmerizing flows of imagery build in operatic intensity. Sikander's visual vocabulary includes recurring motifs such as Gopi hair, "Christmas trees" (oil pumping mechanisms), "singing spheres," and forearms with clenched fists. These motifs are combined to cultivate new associations within the animation’s digital space. Undulating color fields create pitch and fervor, as human voices recite poetry in Arabic, creating tension and rhythm that oscillates with environmental sounds.

    A book published by the Tufts University Art Gallery, with an artist's interview by Amy Schlegel, a conversation between Sikander and composer Du Yun, and essays by Ayesha Jalal and Sara Raza, is forthcoming in the spring of 2016.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Wonders of Pakistan - Google Cultural Institute

Artwallaa is catching up on events after summer. 

The launch of the Google Cultural Institute's Pakistan chapter is indeed another step in bringing Pakistani arts into the global main stream.

The launch had a good representation of all types of cultural variables including architecture, old civilisations, works of masters as well as contemporary art.

Source: Google Cultural Institute

Source: Little Bird / FB

Source: Little Bird / FB

Source: Little Bird / FB

Source: Little Bird / Twitter

Source: / FB

Google uploads Pakistan’s cultural treasures online

Source: Tribune

The six exhibitions can be viewed at
The six exhibitions can be viewed at
“Pakistan is brimming with a rich historical and cultural heritage, with stories and artifacts that we are keen to preserve for future generations,” Google Asia Pacific Public Policy and Government Affairs Director Ann Lavin said on Thursday at a ceremony to unveil six online exhibits from Pakistan that have been added to the Google Cultural Institute platform.

The collections at the Lahore Museum, the Mohatta Palace Museum, the Walled City of Lahore Authority, the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan, the Fakir Khana Museum and the AAN Collection have been uploaded online to The exhibit features more than 400 items and 12 special exhibits, including the rare Fasting Siddartha sculpture dated to 200 BCE and re-discovered in a 19th century excavation.