Gallery hopping in Pakistan

Photo courtesy Deena Habib Photography

Photo courtesy Deena Habib Photography

I’m currently in Pakistan for a family wedding and now that the chaotic dust has settled, I finally got a chance to cruise a few galleries in the city with a talented native artist who, as an insider, knows all the ropes and kindly showed me around.

I’ve always had a soft corner for Pakistani art and have been meaning to do a blog post on galleries in Karachi for a while now, so here goes …

Our first stop was Canvas Gallery, where world renowned Pakistani photographer Arif Mahmood’s solo show, “Cross Roads” was taking place.

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Mahmood’s photography has been featured in international publications and he has had exhibitions in New York and in London. His work is often used to artistically document relevant current events such as the Kashmir earthquakes and the Sindh floods.

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I really loved his strong, evocative collection of monochrome pieces. I like the way his series capture the chaotic spirit of the streets of Karachi, and the diversified faces that populate it.

Koel is a very elegant space with a zen-like, oriental vibe to it. It is a chic cafe, a gallery AND a trendy clothing boutique all rolled into one. I love the tranquil Japanese garden outside, which makes it a great little space to hang out at.

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Currently, they are showcasing Sadaf Naeem’s work who is a prominent Pakistani painter.

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Naeem’s work centers around themes of politics, cultural identity and religious iconography. I was intrigued by the repeated use of lace in the pieces – it’s decorative yet constantly used as a veil to hide or (prettily) conceal certain aspects. A few of her pieces in the past depict the stifling and isolating gender roles which are imposed by society and religion.

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The last gallery on the agenda was Artscene gallery, which featured a special solo show by Ali Abbas. He’s one of my favorite Pakistani artists, but since I’ve already done a post on my blog about his exhibition at Mussawir Gallery, I thought I’d highlight some of the amazing pieces done by other artists that they have which are currently stored upstairs. The pictures speak for themselves!

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Khalid Saeed Butt

Khalid Saeed Butt

Dua Abbas

Dua Abbas

Dr Khalid Mehmud

Dr Khalid Mehmud

A.Q Arif

A.Q Arif

These are just three galleries I really liked but there are tonnes more, hidden in mysterious nooks and crannies of this busy metropolis that never sleeps. If you are stopping by in the city and are an art enthusiast, be sure to have a browse and see for yourself!

Photo courtesy Deena Habib Photography

Photo courtesy Deena Habib Photography