“Despite the abundance of Islamic fundamentalism, extremism and a lack of support from the state government, art in Pakistan continues to flourish. A lot of credit has to be given to private galleries and artists who continue to express themselves through new mediums,” says Dr Arjumand Faisel, one of the participating artists at An Art Affair, an art show that features 5 artists from India and 11 from Pakistan, which includes names like Abid Hasan, Abrar Ahmed, Aqeel Ahmed Solangi, Irfan Gul, Omar Farid, Sana Arjumand and Mohammed Akram Spaul among others.
The Pakistani art world relies mostly on buyers from Europe, America and the Middle East, but Dr Faisel, who also runs Gallery 6 in Islamabad, wants to bring them to India, and take Indian artists back home. “While there’s constant dialogue between musicians and writers from the two countries, somehow, the art world has failed to do the same. Our aim here is start that dialogue and create a deeper bound between the people of the two countries through the medium of art,” says Dr Faisel, a medical professional, who turned to art to create awareness about HIV and AIDS in Pakistan. A majority of art promotion and shows are confined to three cities — Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad through a mere 52 private galleries.
In fact, Pakistani miniatures have managed to move on from the Mughul period and take on a contemporary approach focusing on current issues. Dr Faisel says that when recession hit the West, things slowed down in Pakistani art market. But now, normalcy has returned. He adds, “Several Pakistani galleries have opened branches in Dubai, which helps them reach out to international buyers. Besides, online galleries like Artorca.com, have helped bridge the gap between buyers and artists.”
While living masters and veterans may still rule the price tag in Pakistan, its markets are seeing a surge, thanks to young artists, many of whom are still below 40. “Despite the good quality, art in Pakistan is far cheaper than India, or elsewhere. So, I believe Pakistani art has a really bright future ahead,” he summarises.
Till February 10, 11 am to 7 pm
At PL Deshpande Art Gallery, Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi; Call 24312956