Pakistani Artists Overcome Emergency Rule At Gallery II Bradford

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 03 December 2007
a artwork with Islamic lettering embeded into a ceramic surface

Shahida Ahmed, Bismilla in Clay. © the artist

A new exhibition at Gallery II, University of Bradford, has overcome the current state of emergency in Pakistan to showcase the work of leading artists living and working in Pakistan and the UK.

The Influence of Heritage runs until February 15 2008 and has been put together by the University in collaboration with the Pakistan National Council of the Arts and the National Gallery of Arts in Islamabad.

Featuring the work of four artists; Shahia Ahmed, Jamal Shah, Iqbal Hussain and Nahid Raza, the exhibition looks at the influence of culture and heritage in Pakistan and the wider world at a time when freedom of expression and information in the country are being suppressed.

Visitors will find an exhibition that is both political and timely with themes emerging in the paintings including the role of women in a male dominated society, oppression, personal freedom and religion.

a painting of a girl in jeans lying with arms outstretched on a dark sheet

Iqbal Hussain, Girl in Jeans. © the artist

The work of Jamal Shah expresses the frustration and misery of oppressed people and their struggle to gain freedom.

Shah, who may be familiar to UK audiences as an actor in the British TV serial ‘Traffic’, is particularly interested in using media and technology to explore the complex connections between images and issues.

The work of Shahida Ahmed fuses ceramics and painting and is influenced by Islamic art, architecture and religion.

Shahida was born in Pendle, Lancashire – her parents came to the UK in the 1960s from Pakistan – and she has travelled extensively and spent a lot of time abroad including a residency in Karachi.

an abstract painting showing four female figures with cloud like shapes over each of them

Nahid Raza, Hidden Faces. © the artist

Iqbal Hussain is one of Pakistan’s most renowned artists whose talent has led him to transcend a disadvantaged start in life. Painting in the style of social realism, his insight into the life of Lahore’s old walled city allows him to chronicle social taboos with large-scale narrative canvases.

Hussain first exhibited his work in 1981, and through the years has garnered numerous honours and awards, including a UNESCO prize.

A collection of paintings relating to the ‘Woman’ series by Nahid Raza appears as an on-going diary of intimate emotions and conclusions expressed with hands-on vibrancy. The subject of her work is ‘every woman’ and the joys and anguish experienced by women in a male dominated society.

Those new to her work will find an artist whose visual language is rich in symbols with eyes, hands, fish, birds and plants all giving expression to her thoughts and feelings.

an abstract painting showing two dog and cat like creatures

Jamal Shah, Situation. © the artist

Nahid Raza is currently Principal of the Central Institute of Arts and Crafts in Karachi. In 2007 she was given the country’s highest award for art: The President’s Pride of Performance Award.

The exhibition has been arranged by Alison Darnbrough, curator of the university’s Gallery II, and critic/writer Marjorie Hussain, who is also a curator based in Karachi.

The gallery has also organised a special event; Music from the Historic Silk Road – on Thursday 14 February at 1.00pm to compliment the exhibition. Arash Fayyazi, the Iranian tar player, will be exploring the musical forms and other string and percussion instruments that travelled the Silk Road.

He will be accompanied by local Iranian violinist Behrooz Shaida in a musical journey that criss-crosses Persia and Pakistan.

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