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February 9, 2020

Call to address collective concerns of artists

Lahore

February 9, 2020

LAHORE : It is important to address collective concerns of artists. They need people who buy their work. It is essential to have a culture industry, says Dr Fauzia Saeed, the new head of the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA), who was the special guest at a seminar held by Artists’ Association of Punjab on Saturday at Alhamra.

She wants to make PNCA a facilitator that focuses on removing bottlenecks for artists. She supports revival of drawing classes in schools. She said she wants professionalism for all classes, not just the elite. “The doors are open. You have the thing in your hand. Run with it,” she said to a hall full of artists. “Film in Pakistan is very much ignored, neglected. Cultural managers should see the larger canvas –create livelihood as well by promoting art and artists. PNCA does a number of things to promote art, both visual and performing,” she said.

Asim Akhter, artist and art historian, read a paper on ‘Diversity of painting in Pakistan’. The seminar was presided over by Mian Ijaz ul Hassan while a panel of senior artists and art teachers consisting of Prof Rahat Naveed Masud, Prof Saba Hussain, Prof Quddus Mirza and Prof Naela Aamir held a discussion on it afterwards. Federal Minister Shafqat Mahmood was the chief guest.

Federal Minister Shafqat Mahmood lauded the Artists Association of Punjab for holding art exhibitions regularly since 1985. The government has announced 400 scholarships for art and culture and has distributed these scholarships among different institutions. “It’s a complete package, not just tuition, he said, adding, art and culture build a country’s image.”

Asim Akhter said, “In some ways artists are always political so all art is inherently political.” Ijazul Hassan said, “An artist is aware of the events of his times. His work depicts what is happening in his country.”

An artist has to make a new choice every time. Modern artists are not confined to urban centres, they are spread out throughout the country, Asim said. His talk generated a debate on tradition which he finds highly valuable as a way of life. “Even a mediocre artist can make an acceptable work of art making tradition as base,” he said. The purpose of the talk was to see where art in Pakistan was going. Asim talked about the work of important painters in the country.

Prof Ijaz ul Hassan said the association had been holding national level exhibitions regularly for 34 years but the PNCA hardly held 9 or 11 such exhibitions in all. He hoped things would change with Fauzia Saeed as PNCA head.

Prof Saba Hussain said an artist is committed to doing well whatever they are doing. She sees many contemporary artists producing paintings that are in demand while her seniors wouldn’t.

Prof Rahat Naveed Masud said, “We are in a unique position. Our tradition is one and the colonial influence is huge and very much imbibed. Our roots are in our tradition and artists keep adding to it.”

Prof Naela Aamir said “all genres are there in our exhibition. Literature, music and art are all intertwined. We will need to hold diverse exhibitions soon.”

Prof Quddus Mirza said, “At present art is creating challenge.” He underlined the need for the difference of opinion and intellectual discourse in Pakistani art.