In the crowd of 150 people or more at T2f last Monday, there was an intense sadness and disbelief. The memorial tribute to Asim Butt organised by Cap and T2f had drawn together people from many walks of life... a pilot who had only met him at the cafÃ© in T2f, social activists, students, painters, filmmakers, writers, childhood friends and family members.
Through all the tributes spoken, images shown, poems read and music dedicated, there seemed to emerge the multiple facets of Asim Butt's life that I did not know about... and I always thought there would be time. I saw how successful his academic achievements were at Lums before he came to us at Indus for his Fine Art degree, and how courageously he was trying to save the Metropole Hotel as part of Karachi's heritage. His intense desire to make things better and more just drove him to many a firing line pitched against authority and society.
Asim lived on his own terms with a fierce sense of independence and pride in the belief that art is a frontier to struggle for and through. This often isolated him in a society that is shamelessly judgmental and overcome with an apathy that makes it blind to the suffering all around.
As a friend and observer of his studio practice over the years, I can only say that in my 17 years of teaching, I have not seen such commitment to the profession of art, such dedication and so much struggle. His intensity was contagious and exhausting, but his internal compos seemed to be guiding him. Asim's struggle was not only in the process of his canvas, but it became a part of his personae, part of everything he attempted to do, part of us all who share his vision.