Labyrinth of Reflections – The Art of Rashid Rana | 1992-2012

Elisabetta Marabotto on Rashid Rana’s mid-career retrospective at the Mohatta Palace Museum

London: The Mohatta Palace Museum in Karachi is currently celebrating 20 years of Rashid Rana’s career with a large scale retrospective exhibition. The exhibition, which will be on view until February 2014, is the first retrospective of the artist to be held in Pakistan.

Rashid Rana, perhaps the most celebrated Pakistani contemporary artist, has been extensively exhibiting at a national and international level.

This Karachi exhibition includes paintings produced during the early phase of his career up to the famous mosaic-like installations of recent years. These works became his hallmark and through their intricacy they have managed to engage the viewer on many different levels.

I Love Miniatures, Rashid Rana

I Love Miniatures, Rashid Rana. Image Credit:

In fact, it is the viewer’s choice to read Rana’s works either on a larger scale as if the work were one image, or to focus on the many small pictures that compose the final piece, which are often seen only after a closer look at the work.

Desperately Seeking Paradise, Rashid Rana

Desperately Seeking Paradise, Rashid Rana. Image Credit:

The exhibition is divided into eleven sections, in which different themes and concepts are explored.

Rana’s array of work is quite eclectic, and paradoxes and contradictions dominate his art. His technique seems to reiterate the idea that often our first impressions are misleading. In fact, in ‘the second layer’ of his works, the artist mostly discusses social and political issues using bitter irony and references from popular culture which are not always identifiable from the final appearance of the work.

Red Carpet Series, Rashid Rana

Red Carpet Series, Rashid Rana. Image Credit:

This exhibition offers a great opportunity to go through Rashid Rana’s career and artistic reflections on different aspects of his life and ours.

More information on the exhibition can be found on the Mohatta Palace Museum website.

Aesthetic Bind – Celebrating Fifty Years of Contemporary Art

Aaina Bhargava of Saffronart on Citizen – Artist 2013, the second exhibition in a series of five in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Chemould Prescott Gallery.

K. Madhusudhanan, History is a Silent Film, 2007, Sinle projection with sound, Variable dimension

K. Madhusudhanan, History is a Silent Film, 2007, Sinle projection with sound, Variable dimension. Image Credit:

London: September 2013 – April 2014 has and will be an exciting time at Chemould Prescott Gallery, Mumbai. Curating five exhibitions during this time frame, Geeta Kapur depicts an extremely evolved contemporary Indian art scene with Citizen – Artist (Oct.14th – Nov. 15th 2013), mirroring the growth and expansion of Chemould Prescott as a gallery.  The first exhibition in the series, Subject of Death, was in remembrance of Bhuppen Kakkar, the groundbreaking painter supported by Chemould at the beginning of his career, with this particular exhibition opening on his 10th death anniversary, as well as an ode to the late Kekoo Gandhy, founder of Chemould Prescott in 1963.  The second – Citizen Artist deals with notions and definitions of citizenship, nations and borders, the exhibition features works by Inder Salim, K. Madhusudhanan, Tushar Joag, CAMP, Gigi Scaria, Ram Rahman, Shilpa Gupta, Rashid Rana, Atul Dodiya, Jitish Kallat, Raqs Media Collective, Gauri Gill and Arunkumar HG.

Each work is deeply engaged with the implications of citizenship in a contemporary globalised world.  For instance, in Shilpa Gupta’s 1278 unmarked, 28 hours by foot via National Highway No1, East of the Line of Control 2013, she places a graveyard in the middle of the gallery, and creates an index of people who are considered martyrs by their families, but are buried namelessly, questioning the ethics (or lack thereof) of citizenship in Kashmir.

Shilpa Gupta 2013 1278 unmarked, 28 hours by foot via National Highway No1, East of the Line of Control

Shilpa Gupta 2013 1278 unmarked, 28 hours by foot via National Highway No1, East of the Line of Control. Image Credit:

Circadian Rhyme, 2 & 3 (2012-2013), by Jitish Kallat involves miniature crafted-figures staged in a line on a ledge, to depict scenes from everyday travels such as airport security checks, immigration queues etc.  In detail, one figure is performing a security ‘pat down’ on another, seemingly commenting on the increase in accessibility of global travel, but the costs and troubles of crossing borders that go with it.  The greater accessibility is increasing the crowds, risks, and precautionary measures.


Jitish Kallat Circadian Rhyme, 2 & 3, 2012-2013 24 figures  (resin, paint, aluminium and steel) 50 x 180 x 15 in.

Jitish Kallat Circadian Rhyme, 2 & 3, 2012-2013 24 figures
(resin, paint, aluminium and steel) 50 x 180 x 15 in. Image Credit:

Rashid Rana’s Crowd is thematically similar, and is composed of three photo prints on wallpaper involving digitally spliced and manipulated images.  An intense reproduction a mixed population people is projected onto the wallpaper focusing on the loss of identity and individuality in very populous.

Installation of Rashid Rana's Crowd (2013) in Chemould Prescott Gallery, Offset print on wallpaper

Installation of Rashid Rana’s Crowd (2013) in Chemould Prescott Gallery, Offset print on wallpaper. Image Credit:

Raqs Media Collective’s animated video projection loop, The Untold Intimacy of Digits (UID) (2011), is an image of the handprint of a 19th century Bengali peasant, Raj Konai, which was taken by British colonial officials in 1858, and then sent to Britain.  Fingerprinting technologies were developed from experiments based on this image.  The Unique Identification Database (UID – same as the title) is a new project initiated by the Indian government in attempts to properly account for, and index its’ population.  This work poses an interesting juxtaposition of India’s colonial past and current day attempts to account for citizens.

Raqs Media Collective, UID Installation View

Raqs Media Collective, UID Installation View. Image Credit:


Raqs Media Collective, The Untold Intimacy of Digits (UID). Projection, video loop (1”), 2011,

Raqs Media Collective, The Untold Intimacy of Digits (UID). Projection, video loop (1”), 2011. Image Credit:

These are a few amongst many other multi medium and media works that dwell on various aspects of citizenship and certainly don’t seem to be in an aesthetic bind.  The third and next installment in the Aesthetic Bind series to look out for is Phantomata (Nov. 29, 2013 – Jan 03, 2014) participating artists include: Tallur L N, Susanta Mandal Sonia Khurana, Nikhil Chopra, Tushar Joag, Pushpamala N, Baiju Parthan, and Pratul Dash.  For more information visit about the exhibitions visit Chemould Prescott Gallery website.

Islamic Art : Past and Present Coalesce

Shradha Ramesh shares a note on the current exhibition at Gallery L8, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
New York: “Echoes: Islamic art and Contemporary Artists” resonates an epoch of Islamic art and culture from across the globe, dating from 9th century to 21st century. The works on display are a visual diary of Islamic art through time and geography. A narration tracing from Nelson Atkins 17th century mosaic Persian arch, being juxtaposed with variegate Islamic inspired contemporary art. The Director of the Nelson-Atkins, Julián Zugazagoitia, during the press release said “This exhibition highlights some of the outstanding works in our collection that have not been seen in a long time,”
The geographic chronology of Islamic art and architecture ranges from west to east. The region of influence starts from North Africa and Spain on Western region; then the Middle East (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula), Anatolia and the Balkans (Turkey and Southeast Europe), Iran and Central Asia (including Afghanistan and the Central Asia Republics) and eventually the Indian subcontinent.

Bowl, Iran, late 12th–early 13th century. Fritware with opaque turquoise glaze and over-painted decoration. 35-31/4

Image Credit: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Bowl, Iran, late 12th–early 13th century. Fritware with opaque turquoise glaze and over-painted decoration. 35-31/4

The Contemporary artists represented at the exhibition are primarily from Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Though they are from these regions they work and live in different parts of the world, adding to the diverse Islamic impression. The artists represented are Shirin Neshat, Asheer Akram , and Hayv Kahraman and Shahzia Sikander live and work from United States. The others work from their respective native land Hamra Abbas (Pakistani), Ahmed Mater (Saudi Arabian), Nasser Al Salem(Saudi Arabian), Gohar Dashti (Iranian) , Ayesha Jatoi(Pakistani), Nasreen Mohamedi (Indian), Rashid Rana (Pakistani). Given their background and the vast medium on display one gets transported to a different visual space.

Shirin Neshat, Iranian, b. 1957. Stories of Martydom , 1994. Black and white RC print and ink

Image Credit: Eye Burfi
Shirin Neshat, Iranian, b. 1957. Stories of Martydom , 1994. Black and white RC print and ink

The common visual ground, upon which the exhibit traverses are the geometric or vegetative design with intricate details and patterns of Arabic calligraphy, rendered in rich colors and forms in an anomalous vista.  Kimberly Masteller, the first Jeanne McCray Beals Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art, explains the concept behind the exhibit “The overarching theme here is dialogue,…We use the installation and the artists’ interviews to invoke conversations between the works and their cultures, and also between past and present.”

The 28 featured art works include ceramics, textiles, miniature paintings, decorative brass, photographs and video art. The magnum opus is a Pakistani Cargo Truck Initiative at the entrance made by artist Asheer Akram, from Kansas City.

 Asheer Akram "Pakistani Cargo Truck Initiative"

Image Credit: The Kansas City Star Magazine
Asheer Akram’s “Pakistani Cargo Truck Initiative”

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art began was started in late 1800 and early 1900 by two ardent art lovers, William Rockhill Nelson and Mary Atkins as two separate art museum. Both the museum merged to form the Nelson-Atkins. “Echoes” is joint venture by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Kansas City Artists Coalition, and the Kansas City Public Library. The exhibit runs until March 30, 2014 at the museum’s Gallery L8.

To read more and other events Click Here

Dhaka Art Summit 2014

Rashi Parekh of Saffronart announces the forthcoming Dhaka Art Summit 

Dhaka Art Summit 2014

Dhaka Art Summit 2014. Image Credit:

 Mumbai: The Dhaka Art Summit organized by the Samdani Art Foundation, a non-profit art infrastructure development organization, aims to support and promote Bangladeshi contemporary art internationally.

The first edition of the Dhaka Art Summit was a ground-breaking initiative in 2012, that showcased more than 240 Bangladeshi artists.

The 2nd edition focuses on South Asian contemporary art practices. It brings together over 250 established and emerging South Asian artists. The programme includes presentations and several new commissions by artists such as Jitish Kallat, Shilpa Gupta, Rashid Rana, Shahzia Sikander, Tayeba Begum Lipi, Mithu Sen, Naeem Mohaiemen and many more.

DAS 2014 will feature a wide range of programmes including six curatorial exhibitions by international and Bangladeshi curators, 12 solo art projects by celebrated artists from across South Asia, a city wide Public Art Project, Performances, Screening of experimental films, Speaker’s Panel and the participation of Bangladeshi and South Asia focused galleries.

To learn more about DAS 2014 click here.

Heritage of Pakistan Publication Series

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 Pakistana 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.

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