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Posts Tagged ‘Shahzia Sikander’

Top 20 Asian artists June 2010: Art Radar Asia’s most-searched artists

Posted by artradar on July 26, 2010


TOP ASIAN CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS

In January this year, we published the article, “Top 17 Asian artists 2009: Art Radar’s most-searched artists, listing Art Radar Asia‘s most searched for artists to the end of 2009. This was so popular with our readers that we have decided to publish these results again. This list below highlights artists searched for between 30 June 2009 to 30 June 2010.

Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami

Art Radar Asia receives an average of 27,000 page views a month. Our readers come to us in various ways: via links from other websites, from Twitter, facebook and other social media, from our email newsletter, from word of mouth referrals and, of course, via search engines.

Many readers find us by typing a specific artist name into Google or another search engine and finding a story written or image published by Art Radar Asia. Our analytics package tracks these search terms for us and we thought you might be interested in this data, too. The search terms used by readers when finding each artist are varied. For example, common search terms recorded for Japanese artist Takashi Murakami included: “takashi murakami”, “murakami”, “murakami takashi”, “takashi murakami art” and “takeshi murakami”.

Art Radar Asia‘s 20 most searched artists – the list

We can’t claim that this list is a reliable proxy for the most-searched Asian artists on the Internet overall (take a look at our notes at the bottom of this article). However, we do think the list throws up some fascinating data, particularly when compared with the 2009 results.

  1. Takashi Murakami – male Japanese anime painter and sculptor – 36,086  searches (34,000, December 2009)
  2. Shirin Neshat – female Iranian photographer – 4,532 searches (2,200, December 2009)
  3. Anish Kapoor – male British-Indian sculptor – 4,246 searches (3,500, December 2009)
  4. Marina Abramović – female New York-based Serbian performance artist – 3,092 searches (not listed, December 2009)
  5. Yoshitaka Amano – male Japanese anime artist – 829 searches (460, December 2009)
  6. Cao Fei – female Chinese photographer and new media artist – 672 searches
  7. Terence Koh – male Canadian-Chinese photographer, installation and multimedia artist – 634 searches
  8. I Nyoman Masriadi – male Indonesian painter – 625 searches
  9. AES+F – Russian photography and video collective – 521 searches
  10. Hiroshi Sugimoto – male Japanese photographer – 503 seaches
  11. Subodh Gupta – male Indian painter, installation artist – 417 searches
  12. Ori Gersht – male Israeli photographer – 408 searches
  13. Ronald Ventura – male Filipino painter – 393 searches
  14. Farhad Ahrarnia – male Iranian thread artist – 377 searches
  15. Farhard Moshiri – male Iranian painter – 363 searches
  16. Jitish Kallat – male Indian painter – 329 searches
  17. Gao Xingjian – male Chinese-French ink artist – 301 searches
  18. Bharti Kher – female Indian-British painter, sculptor and installation artist – 270 searches
  19. Shahzia Sikander – female Pakistani miniaturist – 264 searches
  20. Zhang Huan – male Chinese performance artist – 237 searches

How has the top 5 changed?

As with the last list, published at the end of 2009, Takashi Murakami is still holding the title spot with more than 36,000 searches. This is compared with 34,000 in 2009’s list. Shirin Neshat and Anish Kapoor have switched places since the previous list, although the difference between their numbers is somewhat insignificant. Yoshitaka Amano is new to the top 5, moving up to 5th place from 6th place in 2009, perhaps due to the 2010 announcement that he has established a film production company called Studio Deva Loka, in addition to directing a 3D anime named Zan. These announcements followed a small solo tour of his artwork. Marina Abramović has surged into the top 5 this time around, particularly notable as she did not appear on the 2009 list. This is most likely due to her 2010 MoMA exhibition, “Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present”.

Marina Abramovic, 'Happy Christmas', 2008, silver gelatin print, 53.9 x 53.9

Marina Abramovic, 'Happy Christmas', 2008, silver gelatin print, 53.9 x 53.9

How has the list changed since it was first published?

The following artists have returned since the 2009 list was published, but many have moved up or down by one or two places: Cao Fei (4, 2009); I Nyoman Masriadi (5, 2009); Ori Gersht (7, 2009); Terence Koh (8, 2009); AES+F (9, 2009); Ronald Ventura (10, 2009); Hiroshi Sugimoto (11, 2009); Farhad Moshiri (12, 2009); Subodh Gupta (13, 2009); Farhard Moshiri (12, 2009) ; Farhad Ahrarnia (14, 2009); Gao Xingjian (15, 2009); Jitish Kallat (16, 2009).

There are some new additions: Marina Abramović, perhaps due to her 2010 MoMA exhibition, “Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present”; Shahzia Sikander, whose medium has recently become popular with collectors and critics and who has herself surged into prominence with a win at ART HK 10 ; Bharti Kher, whose works are currently auctioning for large sums; and Zhang Huan, who has had a number of permanent sculptures installed in US cities this year, and whose company designed the permanent public sculpture for the US pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

Only Chinese ink artist Wucius Wong doesn’t reappear. His surge in popularity in 2009 may have been due to the retrospective exhibition, “Myriad Visions of Wucius Wong“, at The Art Institute of Chicago.

Preferred media of most-searched artists: miniatures and performance art rising in popularity

Most of the arists work in various media but in this list we have tagged them with the media they are best known for. Six of the artists are known primarily for painting, compared with only five in the 2009 list, and once again, this list is dominated by photographers, new media artists and sculptors. Miniature painting and performance art seem to be new topics of interest for readers.

Artist Age

Most of the artists were born in the 1960s and 1970s, as you would expect for a contemporary art website.

Interestingly, Shirin Neshat (Iranian photographer), Anish Kapoor (British Indian sculptor), Marina Abramović (Serbian performance artist), Yoshitaka Amano (Japanese anime), all born before 1960, were listed as number 2, 3, 4 and 5 respectively. Of course, due to their age and time spent working in the arts, they each have large bodies of work which are consistently being exhibited, collected and discussed.

Artist Gender

male 14 (13, 2009); female 5 (3, 2009); mixed collective 1 (1, 2009)

In the year to June 2010, there were more female artists on the list though men still dominated (approx. 75 percent). Those female artists who were on both lists appeared higher up this year than last.

Breakdown of artist nationalities

Chinese 4 (4, 2009); Indian 4 (4, 2009); Iranian 3 (3, 2009); Japanese 3 (3, 2009); Serbian 1 (not listed, 2009); Israeli 1 (1, 2009); Indonesian (1, 2009); Filipino (1, 2009); Russian (1, 2009)

As you can see, this result is almost identical to the previous result, with the edition of one Serbian artist (Marina Abramović, Serbian performance artist). Once again, artists from China and India are among the most searched nationality, despite fears the Indian art market would be slow to recover after the 2008-2009 global art market turndown.

Shahzia Sikander working on a mural in the USA.

Shahzia Sikander working on a mural in the USA.

Notes
This list is not a reliable proxy for the most-searched artists on the internet overall. Here is why: If we have not written a story on or tagged this artist, the search engines will not bring us traffic for this search term and it won’t appear on our traffic analysis stats page. As we have only been up for 18 months it is quite possible that we have not yet covered some higly-searched artists. And even if we have referenced an artist on our site and the artist is highly-searched, the searcher will not come to us unless we have a good page ranking for the story on the search engine.  For example if the story is, say, after page 4 of the search engine results, the searcher probably won’t find our story and will not appear in our stats. Despite these limitations the data is likely to be a reliable indicator for certain trends. Finally even if we have a story and the story is well-ranked, it may be that other stories on the same page are more alluring than ours and readers do not find their way to us.

KN/KCE

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Posted in From Art Radar, Lists | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pakistani American artist Shahzia Sikander impresses judges of SCMP|ART FUTURES at ART HK 10

Posted by artradar on June 29, 2010


PAKISTANI AMERICAN ARTISTS ART PRIZES AND AWARDS ART HK 10

Pakistani American artist Shahzia Sikander, represented by London gallery Pilar Corrias, has been brought into spotlight on the stage of contemporary art after impressing the judges of SCMP|ART FUTURES at ART HK 10 and becoming the winner of the year.

Shahzia Sikander working on a mural in the USA.

Standing out among artists from sixteen galleries that have been set up for less than five years, Sikander won a cash prize and an opportunity to design the front cover of Post Magazine, published by the South China Morning Post (SCMP). According to SCMP, she has been praised by one of the judges, Serpentine Gallery co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist, for being a “very special artist” and a worthy winner.

Sikander’s I am also not my own enemy (2009) was exhibited at ART HK 10. It is a decorative work on paper made with gouache, hand painting, gold leaf and silkscreen pigment on paper.

Shahzia Sikander's 'I am also not my own enemy'.

Since graduating from the National College of Arts in Lahore for undergraduate study and the Rhode Island School of Design for master study, Shahzia Sikander has been “instrumental in [the] rediscovery, re-infusion, and re-contextualization of Indo-Persian miniature painting.” She has worked within a wide range of art genres including painting, drawing, animation, installation, video and film. She was named as an honorary artist by Pakistan’s Ministry of Culture and the Pakistan National Council of the Arts.

CBKM/KN

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Posted in American, Artist Nationality, China, Events, Fairs, Hong Kong, Miniatures, Pakistani, Prizes, Styles, Venues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Shahzia Sikander questions authority with new video art medium at Para/Site in Hong Kong

Posted by artradar on September 23, 2009


PAKISTANI CONTEMPORARY VIDEO ART

SpiNN (2003) by Shahzia Sikander, still image of video

SpiNN (2003) by Shahzia Sikander, still image of video

Art Radar talks to Pakistani miniaturist and video-maker Shahzia Sikander on the occasion of her debut show in China.
The internationally acclaimed Shahzia Sikander spent 2003-2008 performing an in-depth study of the moving image and the fruits of her analysis are on display at “Authority as Approximation,” her first solo exhibition in China at the Para/Site Art Space in Hong Kong.
Curated by Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya, the 5 works on display are video art pieces that challenge authority and question existing stereotypes of Pakistani culture.

The exhibition is unique as it stands as her first show comprising only moving images, and continues her practice of critically deconstructing traditional imagery of India and Pakistan.

For this event the venue is transformed into a black-box screening gallery, allowing viewers to appreciate Shahzia Sikander’s treatment of the video medium, which represents a departure from her seminal miniature drawings, and highlights her approach to new media.

The show displays her past video work ‘SpiNN’ (2003), which was shown in the Venice Biennial Arsenale exhibition, and emphasizes her latest film, the video-essay ‘Bending the Barrels’ (2008), which debuted in New York early in 2009. The subject of Sikander’s ‘Bending the Barrels’ is a Pakistani Army military brass band performing in formation, which is examined as a politcal device. On the meaning of this film, cultural critic Aditya Dev Sood explains:

“In her choice of Pakistani Army Bands as a subject for visual capture and representation, Sikander triggers deep resonances from within the tradition of Indo-Islamic miniature painting. The corporeal language, rhythm, space-making and compositional effects that she discovers and creates in film appear rooted in courtly spectacles as well as in their painterly representation, in various Mughal and later Company and British Imperial styles.”

Bending the Barrels (2008), by Shahzia Sikander, still image of video.

Bending the Barrels (2008), by Shahzia Sikander, still image of video.

It’s all about the drawings

Sikander specializes in drawing, and all of her art is conceived in this way and then evolves into various mediums.

As an artist she wears many hats: she also programs animation and operates the camera when shooting film. She creates animations from scanned drawings using the applications Photoshop and Fireworks.

For her film work, she was permitted to operate the camera at the Pakistani military facility herself. However, regarding what medium she chooses, she remarks “the idea dictates the medium.” Unconcerned with medium, she has no preference whether an image is moving or not, and instead chooses what best facilitates communication. However, despite the medium of a work, it will eventually be reflected in Shahzia’s 2D drawings. She comments “Even during filming, it was all research or fodder for drawing.”

Unprecedented Access

Perhaps most surprising about this exhibit is that Sikander, who lives in New York City and is married to an American, was able to gain access into a Pakistani military facility to film original footage of the army’s brass band. Sikander explains that she was allowed inside and permitted to film because she won a military medal in 2003 as an honored Pakistani artist, and was thus granted entry. However, she added that “I find when a project is approached with intent and clarity, I have always been granted access and goodwill has been reciprocated.” Her American husband was also allowed inside the facility to film with her.

Video art: “It’s always been there”

Sikander’s exploration into the moving image reinforces the rising trend of video art. However, Shahzia sees video art as far more than a trend, saying “It’s always been there at the forefront of contemporary expression.” She suggests video art will only become more pervasive, commenting “It’s easier to send a disc, and its immediacy allows for a larger audience… [With Youtube] Everyone now has the freedom to become a videographer.”

The exhibition runs from Sept 2-Sept 30, 2009, at the Para/Site Art Space in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong.

-contributed by Erin Wooters

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Posted in Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya, Art and internet, Asia expands, Biennials, Connecting Asia to itself, Hong Kong, Islamic art, Miniatures, New Media, Pakistani, Shahzia Sikander, Sound, Sound art, Video, War, Women power | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Three Pakistani female artists in New York – review New York Times, Art Knowlege News

Posted by artradar on January 13, 2009


Farida Batool Nai Reesan Shehr Lahore Diyan

 

 

PAKISTANI CONTEMPORARY ART SHOW REVIEW

Indian contemporary art is hotter than ever, but globalization is also giving a lift to artists from neighboring Pakistan says the New York Times in its review of a show featuring three female artists at Aicon Gallery in New York which ended January 11 2009 .

Farida Batool, Tazeen Qayyum, and Adeela Suleman were presented in its recently relocated space on 35 Great Jones Street during a time of great political upheaval for the country. The three women’s artistic practices speak to the role of women and Pakistan’s tumultuous recent history.

 

Adeela Suleman Green Peacock Helmet

Adeela Suleman Green Peacock Helmet

Triggered by the  ‘Indian Highway’ currently on show at the Serpentine in London, reviewers there are declaring themselves ‘tired’  of the ‘obvious’ motifs evident in some of the art emanating from the Indian subcontinent. Bindis and the kind of steel hardware supplies favoured by Subodh Gupta are out. But in New York Adeela Suleman’s stainless steel kitchen equipment sculptures, which are described as  ‘exquisite’, are given a gentler reception.

Most eye catching are Adeela Suleman’s sculptures, in which stainless-steel hardware of the sort that might be found in nearby kitchen supply shops is convincingly and ingeniously transformed. In the exquisite “Green Peacock Helmet,” an upturned funnel with a painted-on fan of feathers becomes a headpiece fit for a Mongolian warrior.

Adeela Suleman has assembled household hardware such as drain covers, nails, showerheads and fasteners, into forms ranging from strange microorganisms to internal organs and sections of the human body. Despite the clunky and prosaic associations attached to these found objects, the finished artworks have a surprisingly ‘delicate quality’ says Art Knowledge News.

 While the domestic origins of her materials may provoke the viewer to label her work as feminist in its intent, Suleman prefers instead to view her works as sketches in three-dimensional form realized through the potential of combining these disparate elements.

Suleman received a Masters of Arts in International Relations from the University of Karachi in 1999, and continues to live and work in Karachi, Pakistan.

Tazeen Qayyum Test on a Small Area Before Use

Tazeen Qayyum Test on a Small Area Before Use

Delicate workmanship is a striking feature in many Pakistani works, a legacy of Pakistan’s tradition of miniature painting which dates back to the Mughal empire.  

Tazeen Qayyum renders cockroaches and other household pests with extraordinary delicacy. (Like the well-known contemporary artist Shahzia Sikander, Ms. Qayyum studied miniature painting at the National College of Arts in Lahore.) The pins and small labels attached to several works mimic the conventions of entomology, but they also exude a minimalist vibe.

She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan, with an emphasis in Indian Miniature Painting in 1996. She lives and works between Lahore, Pakistan and Toronto, Canada.

Farida Batool who received her MA in ) from the College of Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales, Australia in 2003 and now lives and works in Lahore Pakistan, has created a series of lenticular prints (the image changes with the viewing angle) to portray complex political realies.

Batool prefers the medium to that of video, as the lenticular print allows the viewer to meditate upon a frozen series of moments within a single event, stop at any moment, and review again instantly.

Her print Nai Reesan Shehr Lahore Diyan (There is no Match of the City Lahore) depict acts of arson committed by religious extremists. Through the animation, Batool weighs the evils of both Eastern and Western extremism and finds the greater evil is difficult to identify.  

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Pakistani artist Shahzia Sikander at Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum New York to August 2009

Posted by artradar on December 15, 2008


ex_sikander

PAKISTANI ARTIST MUSEUM SHOW

Shahzia Sikander Selects: Works from the Permanent Collection
On view March 20-August 31, 2009
Internationally acclaimed artist Shahzia Sikander will serve as the ninth guest curator of the “Selects” exhibition series devoted to showing the museum’s permanent collection.

Sikander will mine and interpret the museum’s collection and produce an installation of selected work. This exhibition will include a new work created by Sikander, inspired by Cooper-Hewitt’s collection. Trained as a miniaturist at the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan, Sikander merges the traditional South Asian art of miniature painting with contemporary forms and styles. Her work explores the relationship between the present and the past and the richness of multicultural identities.

Works on view will include:

friedrich_eduard_bilz_book_2

  • More than 20 Jacquard-woven portraits of notable figures throughout history and George Augustus Sala’s “Panorama from the World’s Fair,” which explore the line between portraiture and caricature and the effects of time on the nature of satire and humor.
  • Richly illustrated early 20th-century German medical illustrations by Friedrich Eduard Bilz, which unfold in multiple layers to allow further investigation of the human anatomy.
  • Drawings and prints showing the grotesque and the hybrid nature of the human body, including an etching by Francisco Goya, “A Way of Flying.”

Highlight new work by Sikander

A highlight of the exhibition will be a new work by Sikander. Using the collections of Cooper-Hewitt and the Freer and Sackler galleries as inspiration, the artist will create two works on paper, which will be bound in the middle to imply an open book. The piece will combine drawing and printmaking and will include direct references from exhibition objects, further establishing connections between seemingly disparate works and providing new ways of looking at the collection.

Biography of Shahzia Sikander

Following her undergraduate training, Sikander received a master’s degree from the Rhode Island School of Design and served as a fellow of the Glassell School of Art’s Core Program in Houston and an artist-in-residence at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. She is a 2006 recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship “Young Global Leader” award. Her work has appeared in numerous solo and group exhibitions at such national and international venues as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; the National Gallery of Canada; the Venice Biennale 2005; and, the Museum of Modern Art, Paris.

Visit the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

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Posted in Museum shows, New York, Pakistani, Shahzia Sikander, USA | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Internationally known Asian artists’ collaborative art project in Laos ends after 4 years

Posted by artradar on July 30, 2008


Between 2004 and 2008, fourteen internationally renowned artists undertook residencies in Luang Prabang, Laos and developed art projects with local communities, including the Sangha (the Buddhist community of monks), artisans and students.

The artists were Marina Abramovic, Janine Antoni, Hans Georg Berger, Cai Guo-Qiang, Ann Hamilton, Manivong Khattiyarat, Dinh Q. Lê, Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba, Shirin Neshat, Vong Phaophanit, Allan Sekula, Shahzia Sikander, Nithakhong Somsanith, and Rirkrit Tiravanija.

They created works ranging from photographic series to films to large-scale embroideries and collectively the project is titledThe Quiet in the Land: Art, Spirituality, and Everyday Life . These works addressed the tensions between cultural traditions and the financial temptations of tourism.

The Quiet in the Land: Art, Spirituality, and Everyday Life is the third project of The Quiet in the Land, a non-profit organization founded by the contemporary art curator France Morin.

Morin founded The Quiet in the Land in 1995. Previously senior curator of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York she had organized a series of provocative exhibitions in search of a way of working differently. Liberated from the constraints that come with working in an institution, she hoped to open up new spaces for bringing art and life together.

Particularly interested in investigating the spiritual nature of art and its potential for transformation, it was no surprise that the first project of The Quiet in the Land was a collaboration with the only active Shaker community in the world, located in Sabbathday Lake, Maine; and the second a collaboration with Projeto Axé, a non-governmental organization that works with former street children, located in Salvador, Brazil; and the third in Luang Prabang, where the traditions of Theravada Buddhism permeate everyday life.

Dinh Q. Lê and Nithakhong Somsanith, who is a descendant of the Lao royal family and one of the only surviving practitioners of the traditional Lao courtly art of gold- and silver-thread embroidery, developed a series of large-scale gold- and silver-thread embroideries on Lao natural-dyed silk, a medium that has been in decline since the abolition of the monarchy in 1975.

The challenge was how to invest this medium with new relevance to contemporary social realities. One of the works they created, Inner Self and Outer World (2005), addressed this challenge by juxtaposing images of twenty satellite dishes mounted on tall poles, arrayed in a staccato rhythm, like notes on a sheet of music, across a greenish-gold field, with images of three meditation huts, clustered to the left.

Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba created a film, The Root, the Ground, and the Air: The Passing of the Bodhi Tree (2007), in collaboration with fifty students from the Luang Prabang Fine Arts School, which explored the challenges faced by the young people of Luang Prabang as the pace of economic change accelerates, forcing them to choose between the past and the future.

In the film’s most dramatic sequence, a flotilla of fifty boats motors down the Mekong River each with an art student who balances at the helm of the boat before an easel, trying to paint or draw the landscape as it slips by. As they approach the Bodhi Tree (the species of tree under which the Buddha attained Enlightenment) of Vat Sing, a monastery outside of Luang Prabang, some of the youths jump out of their boats and swim toward the tree. By contrast, others float by without stopping.

Source Asia Art Archive
For full piece plus images http://www.aaa.org.hk/newsletter_detail.aspx?newsletter_id=514

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Asia Society to show emerging Pakistani artists in New York summer 2009

Posted by artradar on July 27, 2008


 

Source: Asia Society

EMERGING PAKISTANI ARTISTS NEW YORK SHOW Art from Pakistan Today  Summer 2009

Radar update 5 December 2008:  The Asia Society has written to inform us that the exhibition has been delayed to a date yet to be determined.

This exhibition of works by an emerging generation of artists in Pakistan highlights the diversity of art practiced in contemporary Pakistani society. Professor Salima Hashmi, Dean of the School of Visual Arts (SVA) at Beaconhouse National University in Lahore is curator of the exhibition, which includes innovative works of installation art, photography, painting, and sculpture. The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-color catalogue.

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Emerging Pakistani artists getting noticed in India and abroad

Posted by artradar on July 11, 2008


CONTEMPORARY ART PAKISTAN  Rashid Rana occupies a unique position among Pakistan’s contemporary artists and has been a hit internationally. Rashid Rana is a star, whether it’s in Lahore, Mumbai or Hong Kong. The Pakistani artist wowed the crowds who flocked to his Mumbai show in November 2007. And he received an equally rapturous response last month at HK 08, the inaugural Hong Kong Art Fair.

The overwhelming response to Rana’s eye-catching work didn’t come as the slightest surprise to two Mumbai art galleries. Chatterjee & Lal and Chemould Prescott Road jointly organised the show of Rana’s digital photo-montages at HK 08 and they were absolutely certain that it would receive critical acclaim. “It was all sold out,” says Mortimer Chatterjee, partner, Chatterjee & Lal.

 

Artist names attracting attention

Rana occupies a unique position among contemporary Pakistani artists and he has made a huge name for himself internationally. But he isn’t the only artist from across the border who’s attracting the attention of connoisseurs in India. In the last two months, three shows by Pakistani artists like Bani Abidi, Ali Kazim and Muhmmad Zeeshan have been held across Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai. And many more are planned in the coming 12 months.

 

Collector Anupam Poddar buying Pakistani art with plans for show

Or take a look at art collector Anupam Poddar, who has built a sizeable collection of contemporary Pakistani art. His Devi Art Foundation is doing the groundwork for a show in March 2009, which will be curated by Rana.

 

Indian interest in Pakistani art

“Interest in Pakistani art is increasing in India,” says Peter Nagy of Delhi’s Nature Morte, who held the first solo show of Rana’s work in India and then helped take his work overseas.So, is Pakistani art the next Big Thing in India? Many art experts believe the interest in Pakistani art is only natural. Says Chatterjee: “There are so many lines of inter-connection between the concerns of Pakistani artists and the lives of normal Indians that often the subject matter is entirely relevant to an Indian audience.”There’s also, as Rana says, “a kind of mutual obsession on both sides of the border, fostered by shared histories, the trauma of Partition and the years of hostility and inaccessibility.”

 

Pakistani art more visible in auctions and fairs

Certainly Pakistani art, like Indian art, is suddenly becoming more visible at international art fairs and auctions. For instance, works by Talha Rathore and Nusra Ali Qureishi sold at auctions held by Christie’s and Saffronart recently.

 

Bani Abidi – female video artist

For Bangalore-based GALLERYSKE‘s founder, Sunitha Kumar Emmart who had been following Pakistani video artist Bani Abidi’s work, then, art fairs provided an opportunity to view the work of the Pakistani artist at first-hand. That led to a show by Abidi recently. “Regardless of nationality or gender, we have been interested in Bani’s work primarily for the strength of her practice and the clarity of her artistic vocabulary,” says Emmart. Abidi’s themes went down well with Bangalore art lovers. In the video piece, Reserved, she shows a city coming to a halt for a political bigwig. It has images of schoolchildren waiting to wave crumpled paper flags at a motorcade that never arrives – it was a theme, obviously, that Indian viewers could relate to.

“I’m interested in talking about a more complex identity formation along linguistic and cultural lines, rather than religious ones,” says Abidi, who was surprised by the response to her show. “This is the first time I’ve had a solo show in India. So, it was a first for me that this kind of attention was given to my work here and I value that,” she adds.

 

Ali Kazim – watercolours

Meanwhile, Ali Kazim’s mastery over watercolours drew a huge response at Delhi’s Gallery Espace. The show was held in collaboration with Green Cardamom, a UK-based institution that promotes South Asian artists.

 

Mohammad Zeeshan – contemporary miniatures

And in Mumbai, art lovers got to see Muhammad Zeeshan’s contemporary miniatures in his show, What Lies Beneath, organised by Delhi’s Anant Art Gallery.

“There’s a certain understanding regarding art that I find in Indians. And it feels good to be a foreigner only 40 minutes across the border and be identified with my imagery as an international artist,” says Zeeshan, who has shown in Delhi, Agra and Calcutta since 2005. Miniature artist Muhammad Zeeshan wants his images to tease the imagination as in Let’s Make A Great Pattern I and Untitled II.

 

2005 show in Mumbai was turning point

Pakistani artists are addressing issues like gender, politics and ethnicity in a language that’s contemporary and international, says art critic Quddus Mirza.

India’s interest in Pakistani art has been building gradually. The canvas was prepared by curators like Pooja Sood in India and Salima Hashmi in Pakistan, and institutions like Khoj International Artists’ Association and VASL Artists Residency in Delhi and Karachi, respectively. Khoj and VASL have held artists’ residencies since the late 1980s. Early shows like “Mappings: Shared Histories” curated by Sood too helped.

But till 2004, when Nature Morte held Rana’s first show here, public interest was low. Recalls Nagy: “There was good response from the art community but not from collectors.” That has changed now. One catalyst was the large show, Beyond Borders: Art from Pakistan, at Mumbai’s National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in 2005. It was co-curated by Pakistani artist and art critic Quddus Mirza and NGMA’s then director Saryu Doshi.

“I didn’t realise it would create such a stir. It was the first time that we were recognised as contemporary to India in art,” says Mirza.

 

Pakistan’s art described as contemporary, international, cutting-edge

Since then, the momentum has picked up, spurred by galleries and artists. Says Muhammad Umer Butt, artist and creative director, Grey Noise, a new virtual art gallery based in Pakistan: “Rashid [Rana] has played an instrumental role in introducing us Pakistanis to India.”

Mirza believes that apart from the “newness” factor, the similarities and differences between the two nations have attracted Indians. Shows like Beyond Borders also revealed that Pakistani artists aren’t “making Islamic calligraphy or veiled women”. “We’re painting nudes, addressing issues of gender, politics and ethnicity in a language that is contemporary and international. So perhaps that shattering of pre-conceived ideas was one source for the Indian attraction,” he says.

But it isn’t just cultural affinity that’s attracting Indian art lovers to the work from across the border. The fact is that cutting-edge work is coming out of Pakistan. Says Saffronart co-director Dinesh Vazirani: “Wherever collectors are looking at art from outside, they’re looking for innovation.” Hammad Nasar, co-founder, Green Cardamom, believes this is partly because, “for most of its 60-year existence, Pakistan has remained a cauldron of political and social upheaval.” He adds: “This has proved to be a fertile ground for artists to mine.”

Two broad categories: new media and contemporary miniatures

Certainly, it has thrown up a diverse palette. The Pakistani art scene can be broadly divided into two: there are artists working in new media, and there are those that have given a contemporary twist to the miniature tradition.

Indians, says gallerists, are interested in both types of works. The big draw, of course, is Rana with his multi-layered images and messages. Take his Red Carpetphoto-montage series – Red Carpet-1 incidentally sold for a record $623,400 at Sotheby’s recent Spring Sale of Contemporary Art. At first glance, the work appears to be a large Persian carpet. But when you look closer, there’s a series of tiny photographs of scenes from a slaughterhouse. The work reflects, in a sense, Rana’s formal and conceptual concerns. He says in his artist’s statement, “In today’s environment of uncertainty, we cannot have the privilege of a single world-view. Every image or idea already contains its opposite within itself.”

 

Other artists names

Other contemporary Pakistani artists are also being noticed around the world. There are prominent names like Naiza Khan, sculptor-photographer Huma Mulji, Hamra Abbas, Faiza Butt, Mohammad Ali Talpur, and sculptor Khalil Chishtee, whose recent work includes sculptures with garbage bags. Mulji’s Arabian Delight, for instance, was reportedly picked up by British collector Charles Saatchi for $8,000 at the recent Dubai Art Fair.

At a different level, there are the neo-miniaturists – Indian collectors who are familiar with miniatures are quite enthusiastic about this type of work. Miniature art is a strong discipline at Lahore’s National College of Art (NCA), and it has turned out stars like Zahoor-ul-Akhlaq and Shahzia Sikander, who made a name for herself internationally in the ’90s.Now there are newer miniaturists like Imran Qureshi, Aisha Khalid, Nusra Latif Qureshi, Hasnat Mehmood, Talha Rathore and Zeeshan. “These artists have taken the South Asian tradition of miniature to new heights, and then moved beyond the page to invent a new visual language, rooted in tradition but of the here and now,” says Nasar.

Take Zeeshan, who began painting porn cinema posters before studying miniature work at NCA, and who combines the beauty of miniature with edgier themes of gender, dominance and violence. Zeeshan says he enjoys “teasing” the viewer. “And I think my images tease a lot. The oddity of the composition leads the viewer to dialogue and maybe, just for a second, ask, ‘What is this?” he says.

 

Pakistan’s art educational system strong…

Pakistan’s rich artistic output owes largely to its strong art educational system, especially since, unlike India, most practicing artists there also teach. “This has honed the critical edge of art here,” adds Rana.

 

But market infrastructure underdeveloped

For Pakistani artists too, India is an attractive destination, especially since the gallery infrastructure in Pakistan is still very underdeveloped. Grey Noise’s Butt says, apart from a few spaces like Rohtas 2 in Lahore: “We have showrooms but not galleries unfortunately.” Abidi too says, “The art market (in Pakistan) is almost non-existent and the small one that does exist is very conservative.” That’s why Butt felt compelled to found Grey Noise. “We’re the first virtual gallery to represent cutting-edge artists based in Pakistan,” he says.

 

International buyers showing interest

Already, Butt is “overwhelmed” by the response from India on his site. “I get a decent amount of taps from around the world and India takes the lead,” he says. Artists like Ayaz Jokhio, Mehreen Murtaza, Fahd Burki and Amna Hashmi are getting the most queries.

Even Indians living abroad are showing an interest in Pakistani art, according to Prajit Dutta, partner, Aicon Gallery, which is present in New York, Palo Alto and London. Last year, Aicon held two shows with Pakistani artists in London and New York. This year, it has done solos with Zeeshan and Talha Rathore in New York. Coming up in July is a show with installation and video artists Adeela Suleman, Jokhio and Fareeda Batool. And there’s a possible Naiza Khan show in New York next year. Dutta is also planning to show these artists in India. “We’ve got a great response from Western and Indian collectors,” he says.

 

Pakistani art attractive proposition

The boom in the international art market and growing interest in South Asia have made Pakistani art an attractive proposition, feels Rana, especially since art from South Asia is expected to emulate the global success of Chinese art. “Pakistani art benefits from a kind of trickle-down effect from this tremendous energy in the Indian art market,” he says.

 

Shows planned

The Pakistanis are obviously eager to make their mark in the booming Indian art mart. Green Cardamom, for instance, is planning two exhibitions in India next year, one by the acclaimed Hamra Abbas, who works in everything from video to animation, miniature painting and sculpture. In her Lessons on Love series, she transposed the romantic figures of Indian miniatures into sculpture. Says Green Cardamom’s Nasar: “India is a place where almost all our artists are keen to show. So we’ll figure out ways to do this to their best advantage.”

Nature Morte too will host a solo with Abbas in 2009 in Delhi and Calcutta. Besides, Abbas and Rana are part of a large canvas project Nagy’s working on with auction house Phillips de Pury in London in November, which will then travel to New York in January.

Meanwhile, GALLERYSKE‘s Emmart too plans to mount curated shows by Indian and Pakistani artists. Even Vazirani intends to increase the Pakistan section of Saffronart’s auctions. And he will hold a two-city show with Pakistani artists in Mumbai and New York in 2009.

 

Prices still low

To be sure, prices are one reason why Pakistani art is suddenly becoming popular here. As Indian art prices soar, there are better bargains to be had across the border. One art critic says that emerging artists from Pakistan offer “much better value than most Indian art now”. Vazirani too says: “There are opportunities to discover new artists.”

According to one gallerist, high-quality miniatures from Pakistan are typically priced between $10,000 and $20,000 though the masters are more expensive.Autumn II, a miniature by Zahoor-Ul-Akhlaq, for instance, sold at Christie’s’ auction of South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art this month for over $39,000.

The artists, though, are sceptical of the commercialisation in the Indian art market. “What we have now is everyone trying to cash in, exploit the artist, and in some cases, the artist exploiting the buyer,” says Abidi.

Yet the artistic exchange seems set to continue – barring the arbitrariness of officialdom. And as Chatterjee says: “This is just the beginning.”

Image details: Rashid Rana

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