Dr Ejaz Anwar is a distinguished painter of Pakistan. He was a teacher at the National College of Arts Lahore and his water colour paintings show the grandeur of the old buildings and the cultural life in Lahore.

According to him, “the year proved to be a good year for the art as three conferences on Art and Literature were held in Lahore with reference to Kheyal, Manto and Attaul Haq Qasmi.

The aim of the conference, ‘Evening with Attaul Haq Qasmi: Role of Literature and Higher Education in Growth and Development of Pakistani’ held at Higher Education Commission (HEC) emphasized the need for a cultural dialogue at institutional level and highlighted the fact that knowledge and truth can save the society from complete collapse.

Most of the artists showcased political subject with reference to terrorism in their exhibitions; mixed media and collage work increased this year.  While talking about his House of Nannas and Anwar Trust 2011, the renowned painter stated, “the idea was to preserve the works of prominent cartoonist Anwar Ali and encourage the students to continue with their research on house cartoons.” This year in November 2013, a week-long exhibitions of Old Lahore & NANNA cartoons was held and a ‘Wheel Chair’ project was initiated on the following anniversary in 2012 whereby 42 deserving ones were given ‘Wheel Chairs’ donated by various philanthropists. A ‘baby show’ was held along with the exhibition of cartoons and old Lahore water colours, importance of raising healthy children’s through ‘breast-feeding’ and immunization were high-lighted by various specialists.

Prof Saeed Akhtar

Professor Saeed Akhtar is a Recipient of President’s Award for Pride of Performance (1994), Sitar-i-Imtiaz (2012) and Fellow of National College of Arts, Lahore. He is among the most celebrated master artists of Pakistan. An inspiring icon in the visual arts arena, he has played a highly significant role in the promotion of art and art education in Pakistan with his lifelong meritorious contributions.

While talking about the art scene of 2013, he commented, “Pakistan has gone through a lot of economic and political turmoil; this year too artists were deeply concerned about the political and security happenings but the work continued. Very few exhibitions took place in the country and sales remained low. Most of the old and new artists worked in ‘miniature’ and oil. Multimedia which took the art on new grounds in the last two years was comparatively less visible and few shows were held abroad, even Pakistani buyers showed less enthusiasm in buying paintings.”

“I had an opportunity to visit Dubai and attended few exhibitions. I particularly enjoyed the calligraphic show of Ahmed Khan and landscape works of Mashkoor Raza. It is a positive sign to see people becoming more aware about the art as we saw many art lovers crowding the galleries and ‘willing to invest’ in this area,” said Saeed Akhtar.

“Let us, hope that 2014 will bring peace and prosperity for the country and for the artist community,” said the renowned portrait artist with a promise to come up with his solo show.

R M Naeem

R M Naeem recipient of the National Award of Excellence in 2003 and provincial awards, RM Naeem has had 14 solo shows at home and abroad. As an avid participant of 13 international art camps and residencies over the course of his career, he established the Studio RM International Residency Programme in Lahore, in 2008.

Naeem is of the view that no major shows were held in Pakistan in 2013; however lot of productive work continued behind the economic and political scene. Security and political concerns didn’t allow the art to flourish effectively. The need of an hour is to contribute sincerely for the country and art as a tool can a bridge the gap between the nations.

He also told about his solo show titled, ‘Aura’ which was displayed in Tanzara Art Gallery in Islamabad after fifteen years and received a great response from art lovers and media personnel. The work explored Sufi philosophy, referring to man’s spiritual journey on this earth and beyond.

qudsia rahim

Qudsia Rahim is an Associate Professor and Curator of Zahoor ul Akhlaq Gallery, NCA. She has been associated with the gallery for the last five years and during this time has been involved in critical exhibitions, collaborations with International Institutions,  literary readings, film reviews and has established the ‘Art for Humanity’ social outreach elective at NCA.

According to her, “the year, particularly, the Zahoor ul Akhlaq Gallery of NCA held significant shows such as Imran Qureshi - Deutsche Bank Artist of the year; Migran-t-Gration - focused on migration, inclusion and adaptation; Homelands - home away from home and back again; Janoni by Fazal Rizvi - a journey of a man, identity and the pursuit of identity and Art for Humanity an academic community outreach program that Zahool ul Akhlaq Gallery has designed for the NCA students where they explore, introduce and apply innovative design solutions into the public sector.”

She said that Pakistan’s art scene is vibrant; arts, literature and music have seen many a years of progressive ethos in the Pakistani cultural scene. Most recently films have become visible on the visual arts radar on a significant scale. Our country is in a lot of stress for various socio-political reasons and our art community is not afraid of addressing this condition - in fact we notice a lot of International interest in art coming out of Pakistan primarily because of the sensitivity of this situation and the artists’ approach towards it.

There is a great deal of international interest in Pakistani art and many of the artists are significant in the global mainstream, this brings attention to arts in general and especially to our young voices.

Art does not progress with seasons like popular fashion does, but it relates to a larger perception and response related to the sociopolitical health and many other drivers of our society and country in general.

Overall, the art scene of 2013 proved to be very promising, and intense. It is important to invest in young graduates work, our young talent coming out of these major art schools is an easy and affordable way to start collecting art. An increased confidence in buyers and collectors seems to be around the corner. Young professionals have been buying more art than usual thus demonstrating this expectation. Additionally, International investment and partnerships with established institutions to promote the arts and also to use the arts as a tool for social change.

raja changez sultan

Raja Changez Sultan is an internationally recognized poet and painter having held over 50 solo exhibitions in Pakistan and abroad. He has done his MFA and MSc from Columbia University, New York in Creative Writing and Journalism respectively.

The ‘Divided Self’ and the ‘Himalayan Odyssey’ series are the two principal themes he paints. One is an examination of the human condition in that all of us have so many people living inside of us and we are different people at different times.

The ‘Himalayan Odyssey’ series allow him to be expansive. It deals with light striking mountain forms. It is spiritual as much as it is imaginative.

While discussing the contemporary art scene of 2013, he said, “the contemporary scene is very vibrant. There are fantastic opportunities for creative people now. The computer and internet have afforded new areas of creativity in art and also access to study about the best art and artists in the world. Straight artists in the traditional sense carry an element of abstraction as they are no longer limited to do the work equivalent of a camera. They can use their imagination, be it in painting, sculpture or ceramics. Broaden the canvas and you have architects, graphic designers, interior decorators and so on and so forth.”

The market itself has expanded and there is room for artists to make a living. Art schools are also cropping up and gaining importance but a lot more has to be done in this area as yet. Art Galleries are busy but the recession has hit them hard. None the less there are more galleries opening up in each major city at regular intervals and the growth is being recorded. There are also more curators now than ever before, be it for international exhibitions or for local ones.

When I was Director General of PNCA - Pakistan National Council of the Arts in the early 2000’s, the art of India and Pakistan was soaring upwards. Then it sort of leveled off because of hard economic times. But the potential and the future remain bright.

This year my exhibition, titled, ‘1000 faces of Eve’ was held in Full Circle Art Gallery, Karachi. It is about good art relies on the universal and timeless values. It stays away from regionalization or being time bound. In both my poetry and in my painting I rely on the universal aspects because they build bridges of comprehension based on the common knowledge of man…on forces that unite us…and not those that separate us from each other.

The ‘1000 faces of Eve’ presents a woman in all her moods and nuances that make her vulnerable yet defiant, feminine yet strong, sensitive yet not reactionary and, in short, possessing all those qualities that define a force that has held the world together, through good and bad times both!!!

MUHAMMED JAVED

Muhammad Javed is also a prominent artist and Curator/Director of Coopera Art Gallery, Lahore. He has also been a Deputy Director at National institute of Management, Pakistan.

While talking about the 2013 art scene, he said, “the year focused more on the experimental and decorative side of art; mixed media and printing techniques were used as a medium for the base. Commercial galleries dominated the scene; art lovers and buyers didn’t show much interest in this field. Many senior artists disappeared from the view because of health and personal issues and new talent emerged successfully this year.  Our Coopera Art Gallry continued to hold art classes and exhibitions. An exhibition by Prof Zamarud Safdar of LCWU proved to be a great success. It has also been an encouraging sign to see many institutions opening up and offering scholarships to students. However, the political and security situation of the country has badly influenced the art scenario of Pakistan.