Shradha Ramesh of Saffronart discovers the documentation of the diverse cultural heritage of Pakistan.
New York: In any country, art and architecture reflect the historic milieu of culture and heritage. Among the emerging Asian and Middle Eastern markets, Pakistan has gained international recognition. The Pakistani art market has been doing well both nationally and internationally. According to Fabian Bocart, founder of the Brussels-based Tutela Capital, “…in the case of Middle Eastern/Islamic contemporary art (as I call it), where it’s not the market that’s emerging, in fact, but our discovery of it. Great art is great art.”
Though Pakistani art was misconstrued to have born the brunt of societal hostility to free expression, in recent times, the country’s contemporary art and literature has demonstrated that it has broken clear of that taboo. Classic examples of this liberation are the artworks by internationally acclaimed artists like Mohammed Ali Talpur, Rashid Rana, Imran Qureshi and others. A panel discussion on Pakistani contemporary art, held at Saffronart in London last year, explored the cultural and socio-political influences that acted on artists from the region.
The evolution of a more liberal stylistic representation is clearly highlighted by the publication of the book Churches of Pakistan by photographer Syed Javaid Kazi (President of the Photographic Society of Pakistan) and Dr. Safdar Ali Shah (Director of Academics at the National University of Sciences and Technology, Pakistan). The book is a photographic compilation of well preserved churches in Pakistan. The architecture of churches ranged from the oldest European influenced gothic styles to Sufi influenced marble structures.
In continuation of their religious architectural venture, the duo, along with publisher Mansur Rashid also lunched The Sikh Heritage of Pakistan, a coffee table book that documents the well maintained gurdwaras that are run by the Evacuee Trust Property Board of the Government of Pakistan and the Darbar Sahib, a key architectural structure in the history of the Sikhs, where Guru Nanak spent his last 18 years. It houses both the Guru’s mazaar and samadhi. The books also incorporates Allama Iqbal’s poetic tribute to Guru Nanak, and is believed to have accomplished a dual mission -“that Islam accepts the right of the people to follow whatever religion they wish to and that Pakistan is not about terrorism only.”
Hindu Heritage of Pakistan and Sacred Companions at the Mystical Abodes of Pakistan and India are other publications in the series, where Syed Javaid A. Kazi has collaborated with Dr Safdar Ali Shah and Dr. Jürgen Wasim Frembgen (Senior Curator and Head of the Islamic Collection at the Munich State Museum of Ethnology, and Professor for the History of Religion and Culture of Islam at the Institute of Near and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Munich) respectively. The books encompass a photographic collection of various Hindu temples that are in existence in Pakistan.