Mariam Waheed on ArtSoch Contemporary’s What The Land Knows, The Hearts Remember

Pakistan’s rich and diverse art scene reflects its cultural, religious, and political  history. It encompasses various mediums and styles including painting, sculpture,  ceramics, textiles, calligraphy, and several other experimental mediums. Pakistani  artists have contributed to the art world generously, and despite facing challenges  such as censorship and limited resources, they continue to create thought-provoking  and inspiring works that capture the essence of their country’s culture and history. 

Pakistani artists have contributed to the art world  generously, and despite facing challenges such as  censorship and limited resources […] 

In this country, we have several prestigious schools and institutions that nurture and  produce exceptionally talented artists, while art galleries provide a space to  propagate and showcase the works. What the Land Knows, the Heart Remembers,  is a group show run by ArtSoch Contemporary. The show opened on the 9th of  March, and March as we know it, has been given the honorary status of being the  month when thousands of women engage in a socio-political demonstration, also  known as Aurat March. 

ArtSoch is a lively gallery that features a variety of original works by both established  and upcoming artists. This time around, they have brought in four brilliant women  artists from across the globe to explore the dynamics of being contemporary artists  hailing from Pakistan. The curator, Amira Haroon who has an extensive portfolio of  her own as well as experience in art collection, said, “Artists from Pakistan are  breaking boundaries not just in the use of traditional media but also of geographic  limitations – they are exhibiting globally.” Women artists in Pakistan face multiple  challenges and barriers that hinder their artistic pursuits. Factors such as cultural  constraints, lack of representation and recognition in the art world, censorship, and  discrimination are just a few.  

“Artists from Pakistan are breaking boundaries not just  in the use of traditional media but also of geographic  limitations – they are exhibiting globally.”  

– Amira Haroon, Curator 

The traditional gender roles and societal norms in Pakistan also discourage  unfiltered expression. Female artists face further suppression of their voices  particularly when addressing sensitive topics. However, despite the plethora of  problems that women artists face, they have still not only persisted in not continuing  their practice and voicing their opinions but they have helped put ‘Pakistani Art’ on  the world map. The show stars Marium Agha, Meherunnisa Asad, Simeen Farhat  and Huma Shoaib, who all seem to have worked towards re-contextualising rather  than celebrating their own personal history, be it of land or culture. The end result is  a beautiful amalgamation of craft techniques and visual art imagery. 

The Empheral Culture of Love, Marium Agha

Marium Agha has captured the essence of traditional stitch-work on cloth, creating  intricate compositions. The imagery incorporates visual elements from western and  eastern art discourse while parting from the traditional medium of painting.  

Marium Agha has captured the essence of traditional  stitch-work on cloth, creating intricate compositions. 

Topaanga, Meherunnisa Asad

Meherunnisa Asad has taken the historically significant works out of the fixed to the  movable domain, she has combined sophisticated stone and metal work to create  pieces that amalgamate “fragments of memory and experienced history” as per the  artist herself. 

Meherunnisa Asad has taken the historically significant  works out of the fixed to the movable domain […] 

n The Name of Words, Simeen Farhat

Simeen Farhat’s text-based sculptures and installations are a poetic visualisation of  philosophy, literature, and language. She has used organic imagery and text  (language) as one to make these abstract images of nymph and sirens. 

Simeen Farhat’s text-based sculptures and installations  are a poetic visualisation of philosophy, literature, and  language. 

Confabulations, Huma Shoaib

Whereas Huma Shoaib seems to be leaning towards the Sufi school of thought  which she refers to as achieving “silent uneasiness”. She has used synthetic colours  to represent a spiritual facet of our existence and expression. 

Huma Shoaib seems to be leaning towards the Sufi  school of thought which she refers to as achieving  “silent uneasiness”. 

The key element connecting everybody’s work is the use of craft. Pakistan’s history  is old and full of life; various handcrafting techniques, including stone carving,  sandstone, onyx, metalwork, pottery, and the ancient art of ajrak are commonly used  techniques and materials to work upon. Given the rich knowledge of our age-old  crafts, naturally artists from Pakistan no matter where they go, end up using  elements from their culture. The show is a perfect example of how to bring an idea or  a technique to the present moment by tying it to contemporary concerns, be it  personal or global.  

Mariam Waheed – Author

A writer and a visual artist located in Lahore, Mariam Waheed’s love for creative expression is inspired by observation and appreciation of all life forms.

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