ISLAMABAD: Works showcasing picturesque peaks, snow-covered sierras and green valleys from the north of Pakistan, created by four artists from the Florence Academy of Arts, Italy went on display at the Dastaangoi gallery in the capital.

The artists spent 10 days in the north as they created the paintings and made memories. Saara Knapp, Brandon Schaefer, Phoebe Carter and Louis Szapary responded to an art residency programme offered by the gallery and were overjoyed after being accepted.

The programme was more intense than the artists had expected as they found themselves painting six to seven hours a day, between travelling and sleeping.

“This was different from stopping, taking pictures and getting back into an air-conditioned car. We stood at each spot for two to three hours in sand and mud. The winds knocked over our canvases as these elements left their marks on our impressions. It was a sensory experience with the light and temperature changes, a more thorough way of experiencing all those places,” said Phoebe Stewart Carter, who is an independent artist.

Born in England, Carter began drawing and painting at a young age. In 2017, she was introduced to academic drawing techniques that were taught through the 19th century. She travelled to Italy in 2018 to begin intensive training at the Florence Academy of Art.

Saara Knapp, who is a Finnish-American artist based in Florence, Italy and the Hudson Valley of New York, United States, explained that she represented what she saw realistically, whether it was painting landscapes, portraits and still life.

“Painting in the north was not like copying one single moment like in a photograph but a conglomeration of many moments while we were in those spaces. We were putting together images of all those many moments of being there especially the changes in light,” said the artist who completed a BS in Biological Anthropology and Evolutionary Studies from Binghamton University in 2016.

She now uses her scientific and analytical background to help herself navigate, transcribe and translate the world around her with her artistic works. She graduated from the Florence Academy of Art’s full-time painting programme in 2021 and now works out of her Florence-based studio.

Brandon Schaefer is from Roseville, California whose work revolves around drawing, air painting and water colours. He shares his knowledge to turn this passion into a full-time career. Appreciation for mother nature is what drives him to create his work and videos.

Schaefer captured the elements of truth in his landscape images, painting what his surroundings feel like rather than what they look like. In his work, he created a sort of nostalgic place for himself, documenting things that meant something to him, which he wanted to take back to remember this trip.

Austrian Louis Szapary studied from 2018-2012 at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, where he received a master’s degree in Fine Arts with a specialisation in printmaking. He went on to study painting and teach drawing and painting at the Florence Academy of Arts.

Szapary loved painting on top of Kho, Nagar (13,500 feet above sea level) which he described as an amazing location with breathtaking views of Rakaposhi and Diran peak.

“The elevation we were at was higher than anything than I know at home,” he said.

The co-founder of the gallery, Amad Miaan, explained to his guests that this residency was particularly special.

“We took the artists through Batakundi, Karimabad, Nagar and Chilas to get them to experience these places as this is their first time in Pakistan. The idea was to show Pakistan in a different light and not through videos and photos but showcase it through their impressions,” he said.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2022

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