Faiz Art Prize, October 3-9, 2011, Frere Hall, Karachi
Winners of the Faiz Art Prize
The Faiz Art Prize winners of the Postcards to Faiz were awarded at a special Award ceremony on October 9, 2011. Meher Afroz and Ruby Chishti received the jury Prize in the Artists’ category. In the Students’ category, the 1st Prize went to Noureen Rashid (NCA), and three prizes to Uzair Amjad (NCA), Humaira Baloch (University of Sindh, Jamshoro) and Adnan Mairaj Malik (KU). The distinguished jury comprised of Naazish Atallah, ex-Principal NCA, Lahore, Mussarrat Nahid Imam, Director, National Gallery of Art, Islamabad, Saquib Hanif, Art critic, Karachi, Tariq Rangoonwala, Chair, Rangoonwala Trust, Karachi, and Asif Farrukhi, literary critic, Karachi. The recipients for the Popular Prize, selected by visitors to the exhibition through votes were Sheema Khan (Artists’ category) and Zohra Tanveer (Students’ category).
The Faiz Art Prize is an award of excellence in art, organized by NuktaArt, Aman ki Asha and Progressive Writers’ Association. About 150 artworks in this competition were unveiled in a special ceremony at Gallery Sadequain, Frere Hall, Karachi, on October 3, 2011.
In celebration of the birth centennial of Faiz, established artists and art students from across Pakistan and its art institutions responded to an open call to translate the poet’s vision through visual art. Participation has also come from the Pakistani Diasporas in the UK, United States, Canada and Australia, and modest, but welcome entries from artists in India.
The purpose of this project has been to reach out and provide a non-hierarchal claim to the poet, and to engage artists to the vision embedded in his writing. In a period spanning six months, artists worked in specially designed Postcards to Faiz (A4 size). The postcard as an art medium has challenged the artists to explore the boundary between image and text. Not only does the postcard provide the responsibility of translating the poet’s vision, it documents the conceptual and material terminology of contemporary art, in which the art medium echoes the artists’ vision for social and political change.
The Faiz Art Prize is aimed at building bridges of communication between the artist and the community, and for a new generation of artists and students to be inspired enough through this modest beginning, for a sustained dialogue towards social and artistic change.
Design of the Faiz Art Prize Award and Exhibition Space
The Faiz Art Award has been designed by the notable sculptor, Shahid Sajjad for whom the inspiration comes from a sculpture originally created by Pakistan’s eminent scientist Dr. Salimuzzaman Siddiqui. Dr. Siddiqui was a keen sculptor, whose initial work was used by Shahid Sajjad, to acknowledge the special bond of friendship between the scientist and Faiz.
Renowned Pakistani architect, Habib Fida Ali specially designed the exhibition space for the Faiz Art Prize at Gallery Sadequain, Frere Hall.
As part of the exhibition and award, art and literary critics, novelists, historians, academics, vocalists and artists got together for a panel discussion on Wednesday October 5, 2011. This dialogue, initiated by the organizers of the Faiz Art Prize, NuktaArt, Progressive Writers’ Association, Aica Pakistan and Aman ki Asha, aimed to address the growing disparity between art and society. As part of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s birth centennial, this program also aimed to inspire artists to draw inspiration from the poet’s vision of peace.
Among the panelists was the distinguished artist, painter and printmaker, Meher Afroz, who spoke about the loss of cultural memory due to the vested interest of opportunists. She spoke about the lack of will and desire among the younger generation, to seek truth. Literary activist and Founder of Irtiqa Institute of Social Sciences, and a leading force in the Progressive Writers’ Association, Rahat Saeed spoke about the urgency required to bridge the gap of disconnect and disparity between practitioners of each creative discipline and to work towards a wholistic approach to art. In the same vein, vocalist Shahid Hameed, stressed on the need to hold workshops that link art to music, so that the distances that exist today can be narrowed.
Art critics who spoke on the occasion identified some key issues which separate art to its context, such as the lack of interest in looking inwards, especially with the growing culture of international art biennials, residencies and exhibitions. Aasim Akhtar, artist and art critic, discussed the challenges of bridging the gap between local and international expectations of artists, much of which is determined by social and economic power. Amra Ali, Co-Founder and Senior Editor of NuktaArt, and art critic, spoke about the politics of language in art practice and art criticism, in which she said there was a need to challenge the current frameworks that give value and validation to appropriation and players in the networking of art that makes it a palatable commodity for Western markets. Niilofur Farrukh, Co-Founder and Editor of NuktaArt, and moderator of the panel discussion gave an overview on the subject. The panel discussion included Urdu novelist Firdaus Haider, Art Critic and author, Nafisa Rizvi, Art Historian, Taimur Suri and poet Shakil Jaffri, who had also held a workshop for artists on Faiz.
The discussion was followed by a presentation, ‘Hum kay theray ajnabi’ by Asma Arshad Mahmood, visiting artist from Canada and participant of the Faiz Art Prize.
Gallery Talks for Students
School visits for secondary school students were organized. Rumana Husain, Co-Founder and Senior Editor of NuktaArt, conducted the gallery talks and spoke about Faiz’s life and achievements, the common ground between the works of this great poet, political worker and humanist and the Visual Arts. She discussed the imagery of a few artworks, as also the fabulous ceiling mural of Gallery Sadequain created by the late Sadequain before his death in 1987, and the history of the heritage building, the Frere Hall. Faiz’s recorded voice was played throughout the day, which was borrowed from the archives of Luthfullah Khan, the greatest sound-archivist of South Asia.
Spread over four mornings, 18 schools, with over 600 students and approximately 50 teachers were invited to visit the Faiz Art Prize exhibition. These included the following schools:
ABSA College (for the speech and hearing impaired), Korangi Road
Al Murtaza School, Society
Bright Education Society’s 2 schools, 1 madrassa, Kati Pahari, Qasbah
BVS Boys Parsi High School, Saddar
Cordoba A Levels School
Educators, DarusSalam, Korangi
Froebel Education Centre, DHA
Generations School, S.I.T.E
Habib Girls School, Garden
Habib Public School, M.T. Khan Road
Happy Home School, Society
Haque Academy, DHA
Mama Parsi Girls School, M.A. Jinnah Road
PECHS Girls School, PECHS
RRBK School, Landhi
The A.M.I School, PECHS
Heritage Building: The Frere Hall
Designed by architect Colonel Clair Wilkins and inaugurated in 1865, the Frere Hall celebrated its 146th anniversary on October 10, 2011, a day after the concluding event of the Faiz Art Prize there. Built during the British Raj, the buff-colored stone of the Frere Hall building was quarried from Gizri hills. The architect also made use of limestone and red stone, making it such an attractive piece of architecture. The building was named after Sir Bartlet Frere, who was elevated to the Viceroy’s Council a few years before that. Located in the prestigious Civil Lines Quarter, it had initially served as a Town Hall. The building stood out in its Indo-Gothic character, with lush gardens surrounding it. Sculptures commemorating Queen Victoria, the Empress of India, as well as other sculptures, a band stand and a fountain added to the beauty of this imposing building.