KARACHI, May 17: Asim Butt was a proponent of Stuckism, a sensitive soul, a rebel with a cause and an artist with tremendous potential. He committed suicide in Jan 2010 at the young age of 32 and since then became one of the most talked-about artists of his generation.
To commemorate his creative endeavours, both private and public, the Mohatta Palace Museum is holding an exhibition of Asim Butt’s work titled Rebel Angel on May 18, which will continue till the end of July. It’s a display of a rare artist’s paintings, murals, drawings and photographs.
Asim Butt dabbled in quite a few genres and employed different media to express himself and give vent to his feelings. But it was the content of his work that set him apart from his contemporaries; and perhaps from his predecessors.
Director of the Mohatta Palace Museum Nasreen Askari says: “He was a sensitive man who rebelled against established norms.
He was an individual who wouldn’t be bound by strictures. The reason for organising this particular exhibition is that the body of his work shouldn’t go unrecognised. The intention is to place a marker that he was an important artist.”
Not that Asim Butt was a lesser known painter when he was alive. When emergency was declared by the military regime in 2007, he refused to straddle the fence or keep mum, and rose up against it. He did some noteworthy work, and one of his spray-stencil graffiti in particular attracted attention. It was an ‘eject’ symbol — a red triangle over a red rectangle. The image has assumed iconic significance. Art lovers can have a careful look at it during the exhibition.
There’s a view that had Asim Butt lived longer he’d have achieved a lot more than he did. Some argue that his suicide contributed to his fame. On this, Nasreen Askari says: “His suicide brought into sharp focus his personality and assisted in our perception of his art. You see, he was good at satirising certain things that some artists tend to overlook. He painted the ills of society very well. He’d travel the streets, observe their darker aspects, empathise with the working class and try and jolt the rich out of their slumber.”
Among the many exhibits, there’s one indicating the insurgency in the Swat valley and another has a STOP sign after Benazir Bhutto’s death. Then there are extremely incisive pieces that toy with the idea of death and loss. For those who are into literature, in particular, will find an exhibit very interesting in which women are seen morphing into birds.
Asim Butt was into an art movement called Stuckism. It is about figurative paintings that contain ideas and is ‘anti-conceptual art’. Paintings representing the movement can also be viewed at the exhibition.