- Event will feature over 100 galleries from more than 40 countries including Pakistan encompassing a range of programming from site-specific works, to talks, and a new digital section featuring non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
KARACHI: As the emirate gears up to host Art Dubai Week 2022, one of UAE’s biggest cultural event that highlights art, culture, and design in the region, Pakistan’s Canvas Gallery is also looking forward to showcasing its work in a bid to promote the country’s artists in the gulf.
Art Dubai, one of the events within the week and slated to take place on March 11-13 at the Madinat Jumeirah, will return with its most extensive edition to date, with focus on art from Africa, Latin America, Southeast and Central Asia. The three-day event will feature over 100 galleries from more than 40 countries including Pakistan encompassing a range of programming from site-specific works, to talks, and a new digital section featuring non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and more.
The event will feature art divided across four sections, ‘Contemporary’, featuring global perspectives; ‘Modern’, featuring modern masters from the MENASA region; ‘Bawwaba’, meaning gateway in Arabic, where specifically-commissioned works or works created in the last year will be showcased, and Art Dubai Digital.
Pakistan will be well represented at the fair with Karachi’s Canvas Gallery exhibiting within the Bawwaba section. Sameera Raja, founder and curator, said Pakistan has in the past showcased works of several contemporary artists including figurative paintings by Ayaz Jokhio, text-based work by Muzzumil Ruheel, marble work by Hamra Abbas and steel reliefs repousse work by Adeela Suleman.
This year, the gallery will feature new works of visual practitioner and miniaturist Wardha Shabbir.
“We are the only Pakistani gallery that has been exhibiting at Art Dubai consistently, and it’s a huge honour to be showcasing contemporary artists in a solo exhibition,” Raja told Business Recorder, adding that the event was held online in 2020, but a switch back this year will provide artists with the opportunity they need to showcase their work better.
“Art needs to be experienced in a physical space.
“It’s an exciting yet stressful time. It’s a considerable financial and logistical undertaking and yet, we feel a necessary one, as it is so important for Pakistan’s art world as well as for the international stage. Pakistan needs to be recognised as a force in the region and for that, we need to be showing consistently.
“Pakistani art is very well-received with an international audience. It is boundary-breaking in respect to what they perceive Pakistani art to be, especially cutting-edge, contemporary art, so there’s always this incredulousness that follows.”
Raja said that while Pakistan’s art does not fetch “hundreds of thousands of dollars”, it remains important that the country's artists feature in global events.
“Hamra Abbas’s floor mural at the 2019 iteration was very well received,” she said. “We were the most photographed pavilion, with the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum even stopping by to speak about the mural.
“Over the years I have seen such a spectrum of people stopping by, of various ages and nationalities including our very supportive Pakistani expat community. It is important to showcase through our art that this, what we are showing is not the ‘soft’ side of Pakistan, it is Pakistan.”
Meanwhile, a fourth section within the event, Art Dubai Digital, is a new addition this year that would explore the digital art phenomenon, featuring several international platforms working with NFTs. Among them are galleries that have also been working with digital art since the 1980s and NFT organisations that are turning existing art into NFTs.