An insight into the art world

Informative session

An insight into the art world

When Salima Hashmi begins to talk, one feels compelled to listen regardless of whether one understands art or not.

That’s what happened at an illustrated talk she gave recently at the British Library on her journey as a curator, complete with detailed descriptions about all that was going on in the homeland (Pakistan) during this time.

Salima brought to light the works of various contemporary artists in Pakistan in her insightful session. From Rashid Rana’s photo-mosaic titled ‘When He Said I Do, He Didn’t Say What He Did’ to Imran Qureshi’s miniature paintings to clay work depicting the violence in Baghdad by Durriya Kazi.

“The new generation of artists is born in Pakistan, raised in Pakistan and has had to deal with all the stigmas of being a Pakistani and that comes through in his or her works. For them, it’s about being comfortable in their own skin first before projecting their ideology. That’s why there’s a thread of universality in their work,” expressed Salima.

A personal context was also given to the artist and his or her individual work as Salima took the audience through exhibitions curated by her, offering her perspectives on what the artist could have been going through. Some of the other artists whose works were spoken of were Faiza Butt, Zahoor ul Akhlaq, Huma Mulji, Farida Batool, Naiza Khan, Adeela Suleman and Anwar Saeed among others.

Being the dean of the School of Visual Arts and Design at the Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, Salima’s skills as a teacher came through, be it in her gripping manner of speaking or the references made.

A case in point was when she described Masooma Syed’s work using materials like hair and finger nails. “These are the things that you cast out of the body. But you can make it precious and turn it into something that can be seen at a museum,” she explained.

She explained how Iqbal Hussain’s works were visual stories depicting his sister and mother as kothe ki aurat and how sculptures made by Ruby Chishti were always a social commentary reflecting her own upbringing.

Over the hour-long talk, she transported the audience to the darkest corners of
Pakistan about which people had many pre-conceived notions.

“It was a sweep of contemporary art history. She had a very direct way of telling the story, which I found fascinating. It was nice to see the work of so many different artists from one country,” said Aisha, who attended the session.

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