RASHID RANA, SECOND HOMECOMING INDIA'S FAVOURITE PAKISTANI ARTIST IS BACK IN TOWN
Earlier this week, Rashid Rana waited for his flight at Lahoreï¿½s Allama Iqbal International Airport a worried man. For almost a year and a half, Pakistanï¿½s biggest contemporary artist had been secretly nursing a fear of flying. In less than two weeks he had an important exhibition in Mumbai, and at that moment, everything depended on whether he could get on that Lahore-Delhi flight. ï¿½But once I got through the Lahore-Delhi bit, the rest was better,ï¿½ remembers Rana, now visibly relaxed as we meet him at a guest house in Central Mumbai. Since his first tentative introduction to India three years ago, this country has always spurred Rana into action.
The 39-year-old visual artist had his very first international solo show in New Delhi with Peter Nagyï¿½s gallery Nature Morte in July 2004. ï¿½India was my launch pad,ï¿½ says Rana, who also teaches art at Lahoreï¿½s Beaconhouse National University. ï¿½I didnï¿½t consider myself a professional artist till that first show in 2004. It changed my approach.ï¿½ In just over three years, Rana has become a poster boy for the Indian art gallery circuit, which has actively displayed his works and even taken him abroad for international art fairs; the last in 2006 with Nature Morte. He is presently in the country for his latest, Dis-Location, a two-gallery, 10-work show in Mumbai.
In September, at Christie's South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art auction, Ranaï¿½s A Day In The Life Of Landscape, a digital print, overshot its pre-sale estimates of $50,000-$70,000 (Rs19.65 lakh-Rs27.51 lakh) and sold for $133,000, making it the most expensive piece of Pakistani art ever sold. While these numbers donï¿½t seem hot enough to impact Indiaï¿½s Rs1,500 crore art market, Ranaï¿½s importance on the Indian art scene goes beyond a simple cultural exchange. ï¿½Rashid is one of the most important artists we have today. The (Indian) market has totally embraced him,ï¿½ says Mortimer Chatterjee of Chatterjee & Lal. Read the entire article hereSource:
Art, beyond borders
IN a recent work, Bani Abidi turned the video screen into a mirror of history in a studiedly casual gesture. The Pakistani artist danced animatedly, even breathlessly, to the lyrics of aggressive nationalism, performing "Pakistan" as well as "India"; the split screen that was her key device matched each country's triumphalist rhetoric with the other's. Aptly titled "Anthems", Abidi's work showed us how South Asia's competitive nationalisms are mirror images, and also how they claimed power over the modernising self (symbolised here by the young woman in jeans), to the point where this self became complicit in retrograde agendas. "Anthems" held the key to the historical crisis in which both India and Pakistan find themselves today. As an Indian art critic, I felt this work did more for our understanding of one another's countries than the kababs-and-ghazals bonhomie of older liberals or the Either-Us-Or-Them annihilationism of younger extremists on both sides of the border.
Such thoughts assumed urgency while we savoured the first major exhibition of art from Pakistan mounted in India: "Beyond Borders: Art of Pakistan" (February 17 to March 17, 2005), a huge manifestation that comprised more than 150 works that ranged from paintings and sculptures to installations and video works. What did an Indian viewership expect from this show, co-curated by Quddus Mirza, artist and art critic, and art historian Saryu Doshi, and hosted by the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Mumbai? I would conjecture that, considering our politically fraught relationship, the audience's response was based largely on socio-political stereotypes of veil and war, rather than on an understanding of Pakistani artists' difficult aesthetic choices and engagements with specific historical pressures.
Mirza disabused us, at the very outset, of any stereotypical notions concerning the art emerging from his country. He emphasised that "there is no such thing as Pakistani art" and rejected the conception of a monolithic national identity: "Sometimes we recognise our roots in the region of the Indian subcontinent; often we associate with the larger Muslim world (with its centre in the Arabian peninsula). And on other occasions we identify with Central Asia ... " Read the entire article hereSource: