"Kachi Abadi," by Masood A. Khan, an ink and charcoal on paper, articulates the artist's belief that we need to be more transparent. The work is featured in "Unseen Visions: Contemporary Painting in Pakistan" at the East-West Center Gallery.
An exhibit of contemporary Pakistani painters reveals unexpected perspectives
Three years ago, East-West Center Gallery curator Michael Schuster attended an EWC alumni convention and met up with Arjumand Faisel, a doctor and Islamabad, Pakistan, gallery owner.
The two got to talking, and the fruits of their discussion is "Unseen Visions: Contemporary Painting in Pakistan," the gallery's current show, on exhibit through June 11. "Unseen Visions" features the work of 12 important artists in Pakistan today.
"I felt it was so important to give a different version of Pakistan," Schuster says. "We only get negative images in the news. But Pakistan is the fifth-largest country in the world ... with a civilization more than 5,000 years old. It's a been a great crossroads of world cultures and religions, and the art is a great reflection of that."
The paintings are, indeed, imbued with rich cultural and historical references. They are also -- perhaps surprisingly, for a country laden with strife -- dominated by themes of beauty, peace and universal spirituality. But Schuster says it could be that strife that fuels explorations of the highest human sensibilities.
"There's a highly developed aesthetic sense in Pakistan," he says.
The East-West Center Gallery is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. Call 944-7584.
R.M. Naeem's pieces, such as "Mystic Rituals," convey a sense of spirituality.
"Above the World So High," by Sana Arjumand, explores the globalized world's effect on Pakistan.
Akram Dost's "Red Line 2," a mixed-media work, touches on the issue of women being boxed in by Pakistani culture.
Ahmed Khan utilizes the aesthetic appeal of calligraphy to present Quranic verses on peace.