This week, You! takes a look at the recently held exhibition curated by 13 artists at Koel Gallery, Karachi...
Cultures don’t get old. They are passed on from generation to generation. They can evolve with time as per its followers’ ambitions but to label cultures as ‘outdated’ or ‘incompatible’ with the modern age is unjustified. Modernity does not mean discarding one’s culture or identity.
Modernity is the use of latest available resources to promote your culture. It is the means or a phenomenon, not the resource itself. So as a nation, it is our common responsibility to preserve our cultural heritage in accordance with the demands of the contemporary world.
Unfortunately, today globalisation and industrialisation pose the greatest threat to the continuation of the most tangible form of our intangible cultural heritage. In order to preserve the age-old craft passed on by master artisans through generations, one must also focus on the knowledge and skills required to produce such work of art. This way, we are not only preserving the craftsmanship but can also utilise them for the demands of the modern world.
Thus, through collaborations with designers and the showcasing of these methodologies in Pakistan’s urban centres, the recently held exhibition ‘Manzil’ attempts to (re)connect new populations and audiences with these traditional crafts, emphasising their cultural worth and value, and the critical importance of their continuation.
The exhibition took place in Karachi’s Koel Gallery with a number of spectators at the venue, who came to appreciate these works of art. The exhibition was the inaugural initiative of the Pakistan Crafts Council, in collaboration with the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund.
With a view towards the safeguarding of Pakistan’s rich cultural heritage as manifested through its indigenous craft traditions, ‘Manzil’ presented 13 collaborations between designers and craftspeople who engaged in processes of continuance, revival, adaptation and interpretation in creating contemporary objects that found themselves rooted in a diversity of traditional craft practices from the region. The artists who participated had an inclination to different eras in Pakistani civilization.
Through their works, they presented a particular history of a particular era. For instance, Abdul Rehman Naqqash, Muneer Ahmad and Hafiz Nazar’s ‘Naqqashi/Kamangari’ (painting on wood) was an art of 16th century during the Arghun-Tarkhan period. It can be still seen on roofs, domes, pillars, and various other architectural elements as well as on objects. Of the many tools specifically created for this craft were special brushes and pigments used to create floral, geometric and calligraphic patterns. Similarly, the ‘Kundan jewellery’ by Amber Sami and Siddique Khokhar, referred to the craft of Kundan which is the oldest technique of jewellery making in the Indian subcontinent.
Moreover, ‘Misagari’ (Copper-Ware) by Arshad Faruqi and Muhammad Naseem, ‘Parchin Inlay’ (Parchin Kaari) by Lel Kamaal, Attique and Mashood and ‘Khattati’ (Calligraphy) by Shah Abdullah Alamee among others were some of the prominent works that spread awareness regarding the art and its worth in Pakistan’s cultural history. They also translated how they are still found in our surrounding with a touch of modernity and an emphasis on owning them as a cultural gift from the past.
The exhibition, held recently, gained a good reception from the public for its new concept of merging 13 different artists and exhibiting their pieces for the common public.