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Have you ever helped an artist?

Published Aug 26, 2011 06:38am


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In her short write-up which appeared in Dawn’s Independence Day special edition, artist and art educationist Salima Hashmi raised a very important question: ‘When was the last time you helped an artist?’ Then, quoting Faiz, she wrote words to the effect that artists find for people (the beauty, the good) what people are unable to find for themselves (in times of distress). Pakistani art is happening and the whole world can see it, she informed us, and then asked, “Can we?”

Yes, Pakistani art is happening, be it visual arts or those from the performing category. Just look around and you’ll know what Mrs Hashmi meant. So many of our artists and performers have gained international recognition in these very challenging times that it is truly a phenomenal development. With so much negative stimuli around, they really have found for us the beauty and the love which we ordinary mortals fail to find in our midst every day. Be it the team at Coke Studio, the many crusading boy bands or the inimitable Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, or now four, very mature, generations of ace painters and sculptors who exhibit at international venues and bring our troubled country a good name – it is happening. Writers and poets too are an integral part of the art community, and they are also making waves at the global level.

While the ones who have had the opportunity to showcase their talents shine bright, there remain thousands more who just don’t have the modern day wherewithal to market their genius, and that’s what success really boils down to these days. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan had to be picked up by Peter Gabriel to make himself known in Pakistan and India! If he had died unsung, the world of music would have been poorer today.

Ask Faizan Peerzada of the Rafi Peer Theatre group who keeps finding new singers and performers from across the country literally every few days; my colleague Salman Peerzada (not related to Faizan) tells me of one or the other amazing new writer or a poet that he keeps discovering; and not a week goes by without one coming across a new, amazing visual artist. It is worth sparing a few moments to think about the question Mrs Hashmi raised; take it further and ask yourself what you as an individual can do to help one struggling artist.

A performer can be invited to perform at a birthday, a wedding or a get-together, etc. to entertain friends or family. Visual artists can be helped by buying a piece of their art; they can be invited to help conduct a painting session with your children and their friends; poets and writers can be invited to your home and requested to bring their published or unpublished works for recital, with an offer to help them publish the work or sell their published work. The opportunity to support art and artists is there in everyone’s life in any big or small way one chooses—until such time that they get the big break they deserve.

I am writing this with the specific purpose to help a very talented, young artist in Karachi who has made it his mission to document Pakistan’s crumbling architectural heritage. He has created series of paintings on Thatta and Lahore, for instance, where the wind-catchers and Basant kites, respectively, are now no more a part of the skyline, and stand preserved only on his canvases. But because he does not blow his own horn or lectures about his work before an audience that may not really be interested in what the artist has to say, especially when the language spoken is not English, he is far from the culture vultures’ radar.

A friend of his, an art connoisseur and collector, has thankfully arranged for his show to be taken to Dubai and exhibited at a hotel there, but the artist needs help with arranging his air ticket, framing the artworks and getting a brochure of his works printed. The cost of media publicity in Dubai, which his hosts have said he’ll have to arrange himself, is another area where help is needed. A few ads can cover the cost of his brochure and hopefully other expenses. One can also buy a painting, for one’s home or office, or as a gift for friends visiting from abroad, who might wish to take a piece or two of Pakistani cityscape back with them.

Do think about it. I can guide you in confidence to the painter concerned. This might be the big break the artist has been waiting for.

—The writer is a member of the staff at Dawn Newspaper. He can be reached at


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The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (8) Closed

hundal Aug 26, 2011 05:53pm
An eye opener. Please do forward the details and if possible a few images of his work as well.
Forbidden Fruit Aug 26, 2011 05:55pm
Artists don't just make beautiful paintings in times of distress, I believe they're ambassadors of Pakistani culture. They go out of the way, take pains, to document culture and our landscapes for us and for posterity's sake. By all means they should be supported in their endeavors. But I do have my reservations as far as some really trashy contemporary 'art' is concerned! Art with a meaning is what I'm all for.
Salman Ahmad Aug 26, 2011 06:18pm
I am writing on behalf of the SADEQUAIN Foundation USA. I will be visiting Pakistan at the end of September to attend several events related to the latest book on Sadequain. There will be one book event in Dubai as well on October 8. I can be contacted at and if I could be of any help, I will be glad to do so.
fatimaleghari9@gmail Aug 26, 2011 11:13pm
we have been working to save the indiginous crafts of multan for the past 2 years and i as a director of craft galleria i have given an equal share to the student especially girls so that they can be a part of small business industries . we have had two very sucsessful exhibitions in london and we are trying to work on a gallery where we can show how all this stuff is made . I am a director of multan college of arts and an advisor their too , we would really appreciate if you could give this coverage as we rea save the dying arts and crafts .
Sajid Razvi Aug 27, 2011 12:26am
Your writing is appropriate and relevant to support our Artist's cause who many a times remain unsung hero. Yes they need best of our support and encouragement to enable them to bring out for mass display the best with in them. Thank you Sonny for raising your voice for the Artists.
S. A. M. Aug 27, 2011 03:27am
the term artist is having a very broad meaning poets, painters photographers dancers actors singers comedians etc etc all fall within the category of artist. When I was young I too wanted to be an artist (wanted to be into pinting, sketching and sculpture) and I remember my mother taking me to a well known artist but that artist told me that if you think you can have it as a profeesion do not expect that you will start earning from the beggining it will take a long time to get recoginsed and established (if at all) that frightened me and I turned my focus to my regular studies today I am working for a financial institution. But I still feel that being an artist I would have done better because that is what I had always wanted to be. We should see what our children want to be and should encourage them to follow their real inclinations. I must also say that things in our society are more open and a lot better (comparatively)
Arjumand Faisel Aug 28, 2011 12:55am
gallery 6 is supports talented art students and artists regularly in many ways. We try to meet their financial requirements for various needs. This is a silent community service project as we do not want to hurt their egos, hence, the level of support and names are not disclosed. You could send us the artist's work for our committee to consider the possibility of support. We may be contacted on 051 2251171, 051 2507750, 0315 6863006 for any clarification. Arjumand Faisel, Curator, gallery 6
Aajiz Sep 05, 2011 02:23am
Coke Studio Doing great job in this field... need to support these type of other organizations... Nice Sharing to support artists