Seher Shah in Huffington Post’s “10 International Artists to Watch in 2013”

Manjari Sihare shares details of Seher Shah’s mention in Huffington Post’s List of Ten International Artists to Watch in 2013

Seher Shah_Radiant Lines-X Block

Seher Shah
Capitol Complex: X-Block
Collage on paper, 11 x 14 inches, 2012
Image courtesy of Nature Morte Berlin

New York: Contemporary art in Pakistan is finally receiving much deserved international recognition after bordering along the shadows of art from India. Last week, the Huffington Post listed Seher Shah in its take on international artists to watch out for in the coming year. New York based artist of Pakistani origin, Seher Shah has lived in different parts of the world  including Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and now the United States. Most recently, Seher’s has been in the news for her work in a current exhibition at the Rubin Museum of Art, Radical Terrain which celebrated the genre of modern Indian landscape painting juxtaposed with new work by younger contemporary artists. Watch the blog for more on this exhibit in the coming weeks.

Over the past 5 years, contemporary Pakistani artists have gained major international recognition. Among these are Rashid Rana who is well known for commanding high prices for his photomontages in global auctions. In November last year, the Deutsche Bank conferred Imran Qureshi with their “Artist of the Year” award. Similarly Shazia Sikander, a graduate of Lahore’s National College of the Arts, now based in the US,  has long been popular across the globe, receiving attention  and place in the collection of avid art collectors such as Bill Gates. In November, Saffronart held its inaugural auction of Pakistani Contemporary Art, which featured a total of seventy lots and represented an eclectic overview of the genre. Read more about some geniuses of Pakistani contemporary art in this article.

Imran Qureshi is Deutsche Bank’s “Artist of the Year 2013”

Imran Qureshi
Moderate Enlightenment
2007
Gouache on Wasli
8.5 x 6.5 in
From: Saffronart’s 24 Hour Auction: Art of Pakistan, Lot 31
Exhibited and published: Hanging Fire: Contemporary Art from Pakistan, 2009-10

Manjari Sihare of Saffronart shares details about Deutsche Bank’s 2013 Artist of the Year Award conferred to Pakistani contemporary artist Imran Qureshi

New York: Deutsche Bank has presented its fourth “Artist of the Year” award to leading Pakistani contemporary artist Imran Qureshi. The selection was made on the recommendation of internationally renowned curators including Okwui Enwezor, Hou Hanru, Udo Kittelmann, and Victoria Noorthoorn, who comprise the Deutsche Bank Global Art Advisory Council. This award was instituted in 201o to honor an international contemporary artist who has already amassed an unmistakable and extraordinary oeuvre working with the paper medium or photography,  the two focal points of the celebrated Deutsche Bank Art Collection.

The Deutsche Bank Collection is  one of the most comprehensive corporate art collections in the world, featuring over 55,000 photographs, prints and drawings worldwide. The Collection started with early acquisitions of significant German-speaking artists such as George Baselitz, Joseph Beuys and Sigmar Pölke. As the Bank has grew globally, so did the size and interactive nature of their art collection, which was directed to reflect today’s diverse contemporary art world and an international point of view. Hence works of German artists were juxtaposed with works by master artists from respective host countries. The bank’s art collection is strategically headquartered in New York City to take advantage the city’s vibrant contemporary art environment and the international profile of the people who work in and visit the bank daily.

The award is not based on a financial reward, but positioned as an integral part of Deutsche Bank’s art program through its  substantial collection, exhibitions, and its joint projects with partners. For the past three years, since its inception, the reward included a solo exhibition at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin accompanied with a comprehensive catalogue, an exclusive edition designed by the artist and acquisition of the artist awardee’s select works on paper for the Deutsche Bank Collection. This year, the announcement coincided with another important disclosure by the Bank. On Monday, November 12th, 2012, the Deutsche Bank announced the space which currently holds the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin will be converted into the German capital’s newest kunsthalle in Spring 2013. This announcement was a follow up of the news that broke out early this year of the Guggenheim closing its Berlin premises at the end of 2012.  This space will mark the end of the bank’s 15-year collaboration with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. In its press release, the bank declared that “the Kunsthalle is conceptualized as a place where young, promising talent can be seen first. Its inaugural exhibition in April 2013 will feature the work of Imran Qureshi, one of the most important figures on Pakistan’s art scene today.” Read more.

To learn more about Imran Qureshi, click here.

The Art of Imran Qureshi

Guest blogger, Sayantan Mukhopadhyay reflects on Imran Qureshi’s Moderate Enlightenment series of paintings

Imran Qureshi
Moderate Enlightenment
2007
Gouache on Wasli
8.5 x 6.5 in
From: Saffronart’s 24 Hour Auction: Art of Pakistan, Lot 31
Exhibited and published: Hanging Fire: Contemporary Art from Pakistan, 2009-10

New York: As contemporary art hurtles further into its characteristic world of postmodern diffusion – where national categories give way to dissolving borders and trans-regional connections – potent markers of heritage serve as reminders of mooring and place.

Imran Qureshi has stated the importance belonging plays in his art and his Moderate Enlightenment series reveals a keen interest in re-pitching a distinctly South Asian artistic vernacular, paying homage to tradition and the importance of history in visual storytelling. The miniature – an art form that has been devoted exclusively to portraiture and the human form – is an encounter with an individual. In its historical use, important imperial or divine figureheads would be richly painted and ornamented with gold leaf, allowing inquisitive eyes a point of access into the court or the heavens.

Qureshi paints intimate portraits of religious men and finds a quiet anxiety with contemporary Pakistan therein: seemingly mundane images of men turn into hidden symbols of social unrest. These post-9/11 treatises search to understand how perceptions of zealotry can be influenced by fashion and posture. In his use of the miniature, he highlights the issue as a South Asian one, fixed at once to geography and culture, but also one that is fiercely contemporary. Here, Orientalist fantasies of Pakistan cede to modern concerns and pressing international affairs.

Imran Qureshi awarded the Sharjah Art Prize
Image Credit: http://www.sharjahart.org/press1/current-releases/sharjah-biennial-10-prize-announcement

Qureshi’s dexterous mastery over the miniature is a testament to his need to find a global voice laden with legacy. In a painstaking process that requires deft use of fine brushes, miniatures must be held close to the artist’s eyes to ensure accurate detailing. The artist’s inestimable skill earned him a place in the Asia Society’s iconic exhibit of contemporary Pakistani art, “Hanging Fire,” in 2009/10. He later went on to win the Sharjah Art Prize in 2011, establishing him as one of Pakistan’s most important stars today. Refusing to be titled reductively as a ‘Miniature Painter,’ he has shown himself to be a versatile artist, his large-scale installation pieces proving him comfortable with media either big or small. An artist to watch and to follow, Qureshi lets us catch glimpses of a Pakistan through visions grounded there but equally aware of the world at large.

Sayantan Mukhopadhyay is an Associate at Aicon Gallery, New York’s leading gallery dedicated to South Asian contemporary art. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Art History and Comparative Literature from Williams College and has spent time with the Indian & Southeast Asian art department at Sotheby’s New York.

Ali Adil Khan’s Top 10 from the Art of Pakistan Auction (November 7-8, 2012)

Guest contributor and prolific collector, Ali Adil Khan picks his top works in Saffronart’s Art of Pakistan Auction 

Toronto: My top ten favorite works in the Art of Pakistan Auction have been listed in the slideshow below in order of priority and importance.

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All of the works I have selected are by Pakistani artists who have excelled in contemporary miniature art – in its development and global recognition. This movement is strong, grounded in tradition and has left its mark on the international art scene. The credit goes to the modern practitioners and teachers of miniature art. The oldest and most influential art school of the country, the National College of Arts (NCA) in Lahore, has been a cornerstone in identifying and developing next generation of artists. The Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVS) in Karachi and the Beaconhouse National University (BNU) in Lahore have also established world class programs in fine arts. These institutions offer highly sought after programs in miniature painting that attract the best and the brightest, channel their creativity and challenge their thinking in ways that equip them to push defined boundaries. They subvert traditional practices, innovate and deconstruct miniature paintings to reinvent and revive a movement that we all know as neo-miniature (contemporary miniature) style of painting. Zahoor ul Akhlaq, Salima Hashmi, Ustad Bashir Ahmed, Imran Qureshi, Muhammed Zeeshan and Sumaira Tazeen, among other established artists and faculty of these institutions have been instrumental in paving the road for the next generation of artists. Some stalwarts included in this Auction clearly standout. Shahzia Sikander, Saira Wasim, Nusra Latif Qureshi, Talha Rathore, Waseem Ahmed, Hasnat Mahmood and Khadim Ali.

I have chosen Zahoor’s Farman (Lot 3) as my favorite because of its importance in setting an early direction for the movement. It is composed in the confines of the borders of a traditional miniature painting, yet it is highly contemporary. It is a painting of significant importance given that it is referenced by two important scholars of Pakistani art – Dr. Akbar Naqvi and Roger Connah. The influence of Zahoor on the contemporary art of Pakistan is unquestionable.

Khadim Ali’s painting (Lot 55) incorporates the on-going conflict in Afghanistan and references the destruction of the Bamian Buddhas as well as the prosecution of local Hazaras by the Taliban.

Asif Ahmed’s (Lot 58) versatility and command over detail impresses me. Ayesha Durrani’s painting (Lot 67) is from a series that I have always admired. Her detailing and composition is excellent.

As they say – the devil is in the detail. To read more on my views on contemporary miniature art from Pakistan, click here.

Ali Adil Khan is a prolific Toronto based collector and expert of South Asian art and antiquities. Khan has organized numerous exhibitions of South Asian Art in North America including  “Image and Identity: Being Ethnic” and “Cosmic Energy and Tantric Enlightenment: Art of Youngo Verma” which have received widespread critical acclaim. He has contributed notable articles on South Asian art to leading dailies including The Dawn Online Edition and Newsline of Pakistan. He has also been invited to share his expertise at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Art Gallery of Mississauga and the 14th Asian Art Biennale in Dhaka, amongst others. Khan is a guest contributor for the Saffronart blog.

Sadequain — A Muralist Par-Excellence

Manjari Sihare of Saffronart profiles some of the achievements of the renowned Pakistani artist, Sadequain

New York: On November 7-8, 2012, Saffronart will host its inaugural auction of the Art of Pakistan. The auction will showcase an exceptional group of Pakistani works from modern masters like Sadequain, Ahmed Parvez, Jamil Naqsh and Anwar Jalal Shemza and contemporary artists like Imran Qureshi, Mohammad Ali Talpur, Naiza Khan, Ayaz Jokhio, Shazia Sikander and Nusra Latif Querishi. This auction offers Indian and international collectors a rare opportunity to appreciate the richness and diversity of the art created in Pakistan over the last 60 years, acquire some the finest examples of this art, and become part of an important cultural dialogue between Pakistan, India and the rest of the world.

Sadequain (1930-1987) was one of the country’s most prolific artists, and his career has served as inspiration for several artists. Syed Sadequain Ahmed Naqvi, also known as Sadequain Naqqash or just Sadequain, is considered a master muralist and the father of Islamic calligraphy in Pakistan. He shot to fame at the young age of 31, when his work won recognition at the 1961 Paris Biennale. The October 16, 1962, edition of the Parisian newspaper Le Figaro noted, “Sadequain adds up the impression of space, density, volume and the reality of matter, which transforms an abstract thought into a material fact in plastic.”

Two years later, Le Monde et La Vie, Paris, reported in April that, “The multiplicity of Sadequain’s gifts is reminiscent of Picasso.” In his lifetime, Sadequain is said to have painted more than 15,000 pieces including gigantic murals, intriguing canvases, innovative calligraphic works and exquisite drawings.

Between the 1950s and 1980s, Sadequain painted more that 45 murals, donating most to public institutions in Pakistan, India and other nations. Unfortunately, only a few survive. Our guest contributor, Ali Adil Khan, an avid collector of South Asian art and antiquities based in Toronto, encapsulates the artist’s achievements as the premier muralist of Pakistan:

Niilofur Farrukh’s review of public murals titled ‘Art without social barriers’ in the July 14, 2007 issue of Gallery prompted me to build on her thoughts, as she touched on Sadequain’s achievements as an artist and muralist par-excellence of Pakistan.

Her very detailed and articulate descriptions of the colossal mural in the turbine hall of Mangla Dam and the ceilings of Lahore Museum and Karachi’s Frere Hall reminded me of visiting those sites as a teenager some 25 years ago and wondering about the man behind such marvelous creations. While I never got to meet Sadequain in person (a great loss and regret on my part), my admiration for him and his work has never seized to end and multiplied many folds since.

Sadequain loved to work on a large scale and may well have painted more square feet than Michelangelo. I wanted to pickup from where Niilofur left off, provide the mammoth dimensions of Sadequain’s murals, and highlight the work that he has done and left outside of Pakistan. I have used as reference the excellent documentation of Sadequain’s work by S. Amjad Ali in his book titled Painters of Pakistan.

Sadequain
Treasures in Time
States Bank of Pakistan

In 1955, Sadequain painted his first mural in Jinnah Hospital, Karachi. However in my research, I failed to find the dimensions, title and condition of the mural. Working feverishly from August-October 1961, Sadequain completed a mural for State Bank of Pakistan spreading 8 feet x 60 feet titled ‘Treasures of Time’. This mural is Sadequain’s towering masterpiece of his ‘Blue and Ochre’ period. It celebrates the intellectual achievements of man, and highlights 46 major figures divided into five main sections. It is said that in between 1962-63 during his visits to Paris, he completed a mural for the PIA office there. Again, I was unable to find the dimensions, title, condition and whereabouts of that mural.

Sadequain
Saga of Labor
Mangla Dam, Karachi

One feature of Sadequain’s metamorphic skill, an aspect of the vitality of his art, was his unbelievable creative strength and energy. In 1967, Sadequain painted the 180 feet x 23 feet wall of the turbine hall of Mangla Dam in less than 3 months. Titled ‘Saga of Labour’, the artist illustrates the age of progress and industrialisation by beginning with a man using his muscles to break stones and concluding with man using his brain to mechanise, build and develop.

Sadequain
Quest for Knowledge
Punjab Public Library
Image credit: The Sadequain Foundation

After the Mangla mural, in the same year Sadequain painted four murals in Lahore, two for the Punjab University Auditorium, one for the University Library and one for the Punjab Public Library titled ‘Quest for Knowledge’. Again, the dimensions and state of condition of the murals are not available.

In 1968, Sadequain continued to be prolific and held monthly shows in Karachi at the unfinished auditorium of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs. During this period he produced murals ranging from 18 feet x 6 feet to 28 feet x 4 feet on the 1965 war with titles such as ‘Shaheed’, ‘Confrontation’ and ‘Triumph’. Whereabouts of these is also not available.

Towards the end of 1970, it is documented that Sadequain painted a large mural that he donated to the Naval Headquarters in Karachi and was later shifted to the Pakistan embassy in Istanbul, Turkey. In April 1972, he painted the magnificent ‘Sura Yaseen’ from the Holy Quran on 240 feet long wooden panels and donated it to the Lahore Museum, where it is still displayed. In the first half of 1973, he completed the ceiling of the Lahore Museum titled ‘Evolution of Mankind’.

Sadequain Mural at Lahore Museum
Image credit: The Sadequain Foundation

In 1976 Sadequain painted two large murals, each 56 feet x 12 feet, illustrating some verses of Iqbal for the Sports Complex site for the Asian Games in Islamabad. The mural depicted the struggle of the nations of Asia and Africa. In 1979, Sadequain painted a large calligraphic mural in Abu Dhabi. The dimensions and condition of the painting are unknown.

Sadeqauin
Mural at Aligarh Muslim University
Image credit: The Sadequain Foundation
http://www.sadequainfoundation.com/murals-2

From November 1981 to December 1982 Sadequain visited India and during this time made huge murals, first at the Aligarh Muslim University in copper cut-outs and then calligraphic and figurative murals at the National Geophysical Research Institute in Hyderabad and later at the Banaras Hindu University. Finally he executed in very large size the 99 names of Allah in the Indian Institute of Islamic Research at New Delhi.

Sadeqauin
Mural at Banaras Hindu University
Image credit: The Sadequain Foundation
http://www.sadequainfoundation.com/murals-2

In early 1986, Sadequain began work on painting the gigantic 140 feet x 70 feet ceiling of Frere Hall. This huge mural was titled ‘Al-ardh-o-was-samawat’ (the Earth and the Heavens) and unfortunately was left incomplete due to Sadequain’s untimely death.

Sadequain
Mural at Frere Hall in Karachi
Image credit: The Sadequain Foundation
http://www.sadequainfoundation.com/murals-2

There must be many more unaccounted murals and large size paintings that Sadequain executed during his travels to Europe, North America and the Middle East. I am aware of a few such at the Pakistan High Commission in Ottawa that require preservation and restoration.

Sadequain is undoubtedly one of the greatest artists of the last century that South Asia has produced and the world is now coming to recognise him. There is a dire need to take stock of Sadequain’s works in private, public and corporate collections, and in different locations of the Pakistan Foreign Office and retrieve, restore and preserve them for future generations.

Well-known private collectors of Sadequain’s works in Pakistan should seriously consider entrusting their collections (either on loan or as bequeaths) to the National Art Gallery and museums for restoration and safekeeping in the interest of preserving a national treasure. Examples of such generosity can be commonly seen in national art galleries and museums across Europe and North America, where large collections of national and international art and antiquities have been build from generous gifts and donations of private collectors.

An example of such is a recent teamwork between myself, an heir of a local collector and a Canadian museum, whereby a rare large 5 x 3 feet canvas by Sadequain from his Cobweb Series executed in 1968 was retrieved from a basement of a home and made available to be acquired by the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto. In the end, it was a win-win for all as the masterpiece stayed in Canada and was exhibited in the spring of 2008 at the opening of ROM’s new Christopher Ondatjee South Asian Gallery to be cherished by the growing South Asian community of Toronto. This happened because of the generous donation of the current owner, Mustafa Siddiqui, son of the late Dr Iqbal Siddiqui, a renowned scientist who had acquired the work from Ali Imam’s Indus Gallery in the late ‘60s and brought it to Canada.

Ali Adil Khan is a prolific Toronto based collector and expert of South Asian art and antiquities. Adil has organized numerous exhibitions of South Asian Art in North America including  “Image and Identity: Being Ethnic” and “Cosmic Energy and Tantric Enlightenment: Art of Youngo Verma” which has received widespread critical acclaim. He has contributed notable articles on South Asian art to leading dailies including The Dawn Online Edition and Newsline of Pakistan besides being invited to share his expertise at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Art Gallery of Mississauga and the 14th Asian Art Biennale in Dhaka, amongst others. 

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