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Biennale art projects a feast for the eyes

March 19, 2018

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LAHORE: Bagh-i-Jinnah on Sunday witnessed the public opening of Art Projects at the Lahore Art Biennale amidst a gathering of artists both local and foreign, art lovers, fashion gurus, art critics and educationists.

It was lovely to see such a diverse range of artworks on display at Bagh-i-Jinnah at different places including on the hill in the middle of the garden. Fountains were running high and splashing water near the Quaid-i-Azam Library, an enjoyable and cool site for the visitors. One could see a good number of artists representing not only Lahore but other areas of the country and abroad at the opening of public art projects.

A music performance by two Czech musicians in the main hall of the Quaid-i-Azam Library was pretty melodic. The musicians Jakub Junek on violin and Arel Vrtiska on piano told Dawn: “It’s our very first visit to Pakistan; we played music of romantic era that falls somewhere in the 19th century”. The musician duo was from Prague and Lahore Biennale was an amazing experience to them.

Works of five artists were on display at Bagh-i-Jinnah, on the opening of public art projects of Lahore Biennale. The artists were Ali Kazim, David Alesworth, Mehreen Murtaza, Noor Ali Chagani and Wardha Shabbir.

Over 50 artists are participating in the Biennale, including artists based in Bangladesh, India, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Sri Lanka, as well as from Europe and the United States. Participating artists in this first-of-its-kind activity in Lahore include Amar Kanwar, Naeem Mohaiemen, Shahzia Sikander and Shirin Neshat. Artists presenting major new commissions include Ali Kazim, Awami Art Collective, Aisha Khalid, and Imran Qureshi.

The opening and closing weekends of the Biennale include programs of talks and performances. Opening performances included those by composer Du Yun and vocalist Ali Sethi. Closing performances will include a sketch by Salima Hashmi, a performance reading by Naiza Khan and dramatic readings by Zambeel. In addition, a full program of academic and artistic talks is being held every day during the Biennale.

A music evening featuring Ali Sethi and Naseeruddin Sami & his sons was also organised in the walled city.

On Monday, there will be a symposium on abstraction convened by Mariha Lookman at Syeda Mubarik Haveli and at the Academic Forum and Art Speak will be held at the Alhamra Art Center, The Mall.

Yet another programme the Youth Forum, Lahore aims to create artistic engagement for youth from all over the country, and from across various economic spheres. Its main aim is to expose children and young adults between the ages of eight and sixteen to contemporary and public art. Workshop programs in several areas of art-making and writing will begin on Monday (today), and continue for the duration of the Biennale at the Bagh-i-Jinnah.

Among the commissioned exhibitions in Lahore Biennale ‘Invitation to Action’, is an exhibition at Mubarak Haveli organised by affiliate curator Mariah Lookman. ‘Invitation to Action’, takes its critical cue from the double-edged title of a short sketch by Saadat Hassan Manto on the nature of mindless violence during and after the partition of India in 1947. It brings together South Asian artists from across generations who employ a grammar of abstraction in their practices that engage with ethical commitment and political agency. Participating artists in this exhibition include: Aisha Khalid, Alia Syed, Ayesha Jatoi, Ayesha Sultana, Asvajit Boyle, Lala Rukh, Mahbub Shah, Minam Apang, Muhanned Cader, Rasel Chowdhury, T Shanaathanan and Zahoor ul Akhlaq.

Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2018