Postcards to Faiz
Faiz Art Prize brings together two popular cultural expressions, visual art and literature, through the philosophy of the internationally renowned poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz to commemorate his Birth Centenary in 2011.
The central idea is to emphasize the relevance of Faizian philosophy to our times and connect artists to the poet’s message of social justice and human rights as key components of societal harmony and grassroots development.
The Faiz Art Prize is a collaborative initiative of Progressive Writers Association, NuktaArt and Aman Ki Asha. It consists of two tiers, with three prizes in each category. The first category is for professional artists and the second for art students. Two entries in each category will be selected by a distinguished jury and the Popular Prize will be selected by visitors to the exhibition.
A special award with a history connected to Faiz Ahmed Faiz, created by the country’s leading sculptor Shahid Sajjad, will be awarded to artists.
Cash prizes will be awarded to art students with outstanding entries, to help them establish their art practice.
All artists and art students have been sent specially printed A-4 size postcards to create a visual message to Faiz. These have been sent out to the art community in Pakistan and India and the Diaspora, wherever Faiz is extensively read and appreciated. NuktaArt was responsible for the distribution of postcards in Pakistan, as the Times of India under the umbrella of Aman ki Asha facilitated the same in India.
Many galleries and art institutions came on board and extended their support to this initiative. Chawkandi Art and V M Gallery in Karachi, Zahoorul Akhlaq Gallery and Rohtas 2 in Lahore, National Art Gallery, Nomad and Khas Gallery in Islamabad became the main centers for distribution and collection for the entries.
To engage a larger group of younger artists who found it difficult to engage with the poetry of Faiz, workshops were held in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. Well known literary figures like Intezar Husain at Nairang Gallery in Lahore, Harris Khalique at Kuch Khas in Islamabad, and Salim Jafri at Alliance Francaise in Karachi discussed Faiz with the participants and answered their queries. Regular articles in Jang and The News have created a general awareness of the Faiz Art Prize during the last few months. A short documentary on the potters of Yarak made by Geo has also been aired.
The Faiz Art Prize was received with enthusiasm and entries have been received from artists and art students from Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Quetta, Multan, Peshawar and Jamshoro in Pakistan and also from India, Canada, Australia, the UK and USA.
All the entries to the Faiz Art Prize will be installed in a specially designed space by one of Pakistan’s leading architects, Habib Fida Ali, at Gallerie Sadequain in Frere Hall, Karachi. The exhibition will be open to the public from October 3 to 9, 2011.
The exhibition has an extensive outreach program designed to engage school students with several dimensions of this project. A series of gallery talks have been organized for art students and visitors. A day- long seminar on Literature and Visual Art will also be held.
Visitors to the exhibition will select one popular prize in each category via a secret ballot which will be opened on the last day by the jurors.
On October 8 and 9, 2011, the following jurors will select the prize winning awards:
Mussarat Nahid Imam, Director National Art Gallery, Islamabad
Nazish Attaullah, artist, curator and former Principal of the National College of the Arts, Lahore
Saquib Hanif, Art Critic and former Editor of Herald, Karachi
Tariq Rangoonwalla, collector and industrialist
Dr Asif Aslam Farrukhi, author, writer, translator
The Faiz Art Prize will be awarded by Salima Hashmi and Muneeza Hashmi, the daughters of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, on the evening of October 9, 2011 in a special ceremony.
The last part of the event will be the auction and sale of Faiz Art Prize entries to raise funds for the re-building of homes and workshops at the potters’ cluster of Yarak near Dera Ismail Khan, which was destroyed during the 2010 floods.
Yarak potters have been specially selected to ensure their economic rehabilitation and the continuation of the ancient pottery techniques of their ancestors.
To commemorate the Faiz Art Prize, NuktaArt has printed a special issue and all participating artists will receive a complimentary copy.
The Faiz Art Prize would not have been possible had it not been for the dedication of its Coordinator, Seema Usman. From establishing extensive communication between our partners, and corresponding with artists from across Pakistan, which in turn has brought diversity to this important initiative, she has played an inspirational role in setting this as a model project for us.
Special thanks go to Aftab Usman and all the many friends who have contributed to the success of this project. Last but not least, a special thank you to Sabiha Mohammed Imani in creating the innovative Faiz Art Prize logo and for her contribution in shaping the design presence of this project.
It is hoped by the end of this year-long initiative, not only will excellence in the visual arts be acknowledged, but it will rekindle a new way of looking at Faiz and his verse through the visual medium.
Niilofur Farrukh, Rumana Husain and Amra Ali