“Women have this idea of Prince Charming sweeping them off their feet and saving them from all evil and then living happily ever after,” says artist Ayesha Durrani. ” I object to this idea of women being helpless and needing to be saved. We grow up dreaming of that prince saving us from all evil and we develop into helpless needy people. We never allow the woman to grow up as a strong, intelligent person who can take care of herself and make her own decisions. Especially in the Subcontinent, women are completely dependent on their Prince Charming – who might not be that charming after all!”
Recession? What recession?
An untitled painting by M.F. Husain just sold in auction in New York for over a cool million dollars – $1,058,500 to be exact, over five times the estimated price. ‘Gestation’ by H.S. Raza, which was estimated at $600,000 – 800,000, fetched $ 1,202,500. An untitled Manjit Bawa sold for $602,500, double the pre-sale estimate.
Contemporary Indian art is certainly the comeback kid if the auction results at Christies, Sotheby’s and the online auction house Saffronart are any indication.
“I am convinced that if more of us could spend a few minutes every day trying to develop a sense of inner peace, eventually it would become part of our lives; then everything we do will contribute to peace in the world.”
These were the words of the Dalai Lama about The Missing Peace project which took place in 2007 at the Rubin Museum, sponsored by the Committee of 100 for Tibet and the Dalai Lama Foundation. The exhibit may be long over but here as we browse some of the images and the text, re-walk the galleries in memory, the exercise becomes both a meditation and a benediction.
The tragedy of Partition is almost Shakespearean in its fallout. It’s been over sixty-three years since this catastrophic event occurred yet its effects continue to unfold, like seismic aftershocks. No one on the Indian sub-continent has really escaped its scathing wounds as the two countries carved out of undivided India in 1947 – independent India and Pakistan – reel even today from the legacy of hatred and suspicion unleashed by the Partition. In reality, one people, one culture, today stand on opposite shores – We and They – talking in tongues which neither understands.
One would think that everything that had to be said about the Partition has been said but along comes Sarah Singh, an intrepid film-maker who has boldly gone into this troubled, calloused territory.
Think of home, and for many Indian immigrants it evokes memories of cool interiors, a whirring fan and the street sounds floating from the outside. Inside was a cool, domestic heaven, outside was the chaos, the traffic, the ugly realities of the work world, of political upheaval, of price cuts. It was always about inside and outside, two very different worlds. And now in our new global world it is about India interacting with a larger, more complex world at its doorstep.
Looking at those powerful images, I was reminded of an evening many years ago spent interviewing Francis Newton Souza in his rundown Manhattan apartment. Art was everywhere and not a spot to sit on, until he pointed to a big bundle of magazine covers with his bold pen-work on it. Quite irreverently he commanded ‘Just sit on it!’ – and I did.
That’s probably the word one is searching for when asked about the new face of Pakistani art which is now being shown in art centers internationally. For a country in so much pain politically and socially – not to mention economically – Pakistan is surprisingly on top of things where art is concerned.
“The steel structure of Spine is transformed through the stitching of red suede, and was inspired by the two-piece choli that is worn at weddings in the Subcontinent. Spine led me to rethink the function of the choli and the inherent contradictions it carries; it is, at the same time, flirtatious and oppressive.”
– Naiza Khan
Krishna the Blue God and the Beautiful Names of Allah are both the work of the same artist, and each painting is suffused with a spirituality which cannot fail to move viewers. For Salma Arastu there is but one god and one humanity and she reiterates this belief in painting after painting.