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South Asia needs to be more connected like the EU: Pakistani artist Ali Kazim

By Sukant Deepak

New Delhi, July 1 (IANS): When Pakistani artist Ali Kazim visited the unexcavated sites of the Indus Valley Civilization, he noticed it

the surface of the landscape was entirely covered with earthenware shards. It looked like a Martian landscape.

“The pottery shards had the physical footprints of the people who made the pots. Their footprints were there. It was unreal when I picked up a pottery shard and it had some potter’s footprints. It was kind of a key to time travel for me. I wanted to incorporate this narrative into my work, “he tells IANS.

Speaking of his four panel watercolor painting which is part of the KNMA group exhibition “Inner Life of Things: Around Anatomies and

Armatures’, curated by Roobina Karode, the fainting artist of the National College of Arts in Lahore, which was the University of Oxford

first resident artist of South Asia, says that for him the ruins of Harappa are not really a landscape, but a collective portrait of the

people who may have lived there.

“I was more interested in creating a fictional narrative about those people by painting a surface filled with terracotta fragments. It was quite a poetic approach.”

Fascinated by South Asian miniature painting, Kazim, who was also invited to the Ashmolean Museum as an artist-in-residence for the Gandhara Connections Research Program, feels that artists struggle with the mechanics of the painting / work at the same time as they are formalizing ideas.

Recalling that when he did a body of work with graphic inks during his undergraduate degree, he noticed that after some time some colors had faded more quickly, the artist recalls: “I was pretty upset and wanted to fix it, and I started experimenting with pigments that are richer in color and do not fade over time At that point, I looked more closely at the Bengal school painting and examined the surfaces of the works of Abanindranath Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore and AR Chughtai

at the Lahore Museum. This is how I discovered an exciting new way of doing work. Plus, miniature schools and corporate school design are fascinating to look at. “

Kazim, who has exhibited extensively in India, a solo exhibition in 2008 and 2013 in addition to the art fair, says: “Exhibiting in India has always been

an overwhelming experience “.

Adding that while the current social and political situations in Pakistan don’t really have an effect on his studio practice, he says, “Obviously with adequate political stability, one feels more comfortable and down-to-earth.”

Believing that it is necessary to review the art program in academic institutions in both countries and introduce oriental approaches, he believes that changes or the creation of a balance between the two depend on the academic resources available.

“For example, there are tons of publications, artist interviews and documentaries on Western art available to academics and students. Unfortunately, by comparison, there aren’t many publications on South Asian art and contemporary artists, nor much material. it is also accessible on digital platforms. We must first develop these resources and slowly change will take place. “

The artist says the pandemic-induced blockages proved to be the most productive time he spent in his studio in a decade.

“My routine was to be there by 10:00. I started the day by throwing a couple of modules on the lathe, then the rest of the time was devoted to painting. There was enough time to read and listen to the speeches and online conferences “.

As the conversation turns to the need for more exchanges between Indian and Pakistani artists, he says the whole of South Asia needs to be more connected like the EU.

“Many families and friends are unable to meet due to the political situation. We all saw the very emotional view of the two brothers separated during the partition and reunited after 75 years in Kartarpur Sahib. But then, says Faiz Ahmed Faiz ‘Lambi Hai. Gham Ki Sham Magar Sham he to Hai ‘”.

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