Arts Pakistan – A Place to Visit

Posted on January 12, 2008
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Art & Literature
Total Views: 19485


Raza Rumi

The art world of Pakistan is not given the attention it deserves. But amends are being made. Arts Pakistan, or Artspak, is a recently developed website, with an exclusive collection of videos, paintings and photographs that depicts the country’s vibrant art scene.

The website has been developed by Khalid Sherdil, a motivated civil servant. The gentleman was inspired by Athar Tahir, a senior civil servant who also happens to be a renowned poet. Artspak is very decided about its aims:

Our objective is to preserve the arts, culture and talent of Pakistan. This site is dedicated to the Artists of Pakistan: Painters, Actors, Dramatists, Musicians, Dancers, Singers, Sculptors, Photographers or Writers. If you are an Artist, you can Host your work Free. Just email us pictures/videos of your work and your biography.

My favourite pick in the website has to be the video-clips from Ajoka, a socially aware theatre group based in Lahore. (You may watch the video-clips here)

This is what Artspak says on Ajoka:

Ajoka, which pioneered the theatre movement in Pakistan, was set up in 1983 by a group of young people led by Madeeha Gauhar, a TV actress and theatre director. Ajoka’s first play, Badal Sarkar’s “Jaloos”, was performed in Lahore in 1984, in a house lawn in defiance of the strict censorship laws. Since then Ajoka has been continuously performing socially-meaningful plays within Pakistan and abroad. It has now over two dozen original plays and several adaptations in it’s repertoire.

While Pakistan’s mainstream art scene is dominated by artists from Lahore and Karachi, Artspak has tried to probe further. For instance, it introduced an artist based in Baluchistan. This was indeed a creditable job of highlighting the styles of that remote corner of the country.

Another fascinating bit was the biography of Muhammad Umair Arif, a young male Kathak dancer who has defied social conventions to become a kathak performer.

Under the Mughal rule, Kathak became a highly nuanced chamber art that was patronized by arty rulers for centuries. It has evolved over time as a formidable art form that refuses to fade away despite the pressures of modernity and the need for popular art that is commercially viable. The good thing is that Umair is not the only one. Lahore Chitrkar has emerged another focal point for nurturing and introducing a range of musicians and dancers.

Perhaps all is not lost when it comes to art in the land of the pure.

Artspak is a welcome endeavour. While it does need further consolidation and some re-arrangement, it provides a good introduction to the diversity and colours of Pakistani arts. Our good wishes to the website.

Since the website is in its initial phase, please do send your suggestions to the webmaster for additions, deletions and entries.

Earlier versions were posted on Pakistan Paindabad and Pak Tea House

13 Comments on “Arts Pakistan – A Place to Visit”

  1. January 12th, 2008 1:02 pm

    Raza Bhai,

    Good post as usual.



  2. January 12th, 2008 1:09 pm

    Raza Bhai,

    Just read your article in The News regarding Sufism and BB’s death, it was awesome. Here it is for other ATP friends:



  3. January 12th, 2008 3:42 pm

    Its a great post and is also great website for art lovers. Thanks for sharing with us.

  4. SJH says:
    January 12th, 2008 6:24 pm

    Many thanks for highlighting the website that is the subject of this article. Good to see the information is being aggregated on artists before their art disappears from view. There are a number of excellent books that can provide ideas on who to add to the website.

  5. temporal says:
    January 12th, 2008 7:28 pm

    thanks for bringing this here

    btw any updates on gulgee’s murder investigation?

  6. Sadia says:
    January 13th, 2008 3:51 am


    Having visited Pakistan for the first time 2 weeks ago, i found myself reading up on the infamous Anarkali story/myth, as a result of which I stumbled upon your blog/website. Interesting and informative reads :)


  7. Raza Rumi says:
    January 13th, 2008 4:33 am

    Many thanks for the comments..
    Indeed this is a good website that deserves attention and further growth. We have a rich arts scene that is most of the times ignored..

    Gulgee’s murder investigation like most other investgations has not resulted in much output. His loss is huge; but then the events of 2007 have left us all bewildered…

  8. QUDSIA says:
    January 13th, 2008 10:53 am

    Our treasures in teh arts are many and I think is doing a great service by highlighting these things.

  9. Daktar says:
    January 13th, 2008 11:05 am

    There are a number of such sites that are now emerging and that is good because it shows that the interest in the arts is alive. On Arts Pakistan, however, I thought that it would be good to make it more easy to navigate. There is too much stuff there now and it is difficult to get to what you want or are more interested in.

  10. Ayaz Siddiqui says:
    January 13th, 2008 11:18 am

    Great article and a great website however limited to only art scene of Punjab and Lahore. If it is Art Pakistan it has to be expanded. Surprisingly. Sadequein. Guljee, Azar Zoobi and Ustad Allah Baksh and may more are missing.

  11. January 13th, 2008 9:01 pm

    I must say that I was pleasantly surprised to see the Balochi Artist and instructor who is actually promoting the figure drawing techniques. I think this is something that has been overlooked and ignored as the culture has shunned the depiction of human and animal forms in an effort to be more “Islamic”.

    As one looks through the various artists, this is reinforced as we look at some of the more more senior artists and move closer to contemporary artists. I see more of an “abstraction” and miniature paintings and more stylized (almost stereotypical) depictions of iconic themes that almost every Pakistani artist seems to revisit.

    In any case, I sure hope they add more works to that site, and thanks for sharing it with us.

  12. Raza Rumi says:
    January 14th, 2008 10:52 am

    Daktar, Ayaz and Taban
    Many thanks for the comments. Your feedback is most helpful and I will convey this to the website administrator..

    Indeed this is a website that needs to grow and have more contemporary content.

  13. Agadir says:
    January 28th, 2008 7:10 am


    Raza Bhai
    Nice post as usual and I am thankful to you bringing here.It is just like to natural scenes. most of related our culture and most of related to our history.And we didnot have to forgotton our culture.Because our culture is our nationality.

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