Arts Pakistan – A Place to Visit

Posted on January 12, 2008
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Art & Literature
Total Views: 27494

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 responses to “Arts Pakistan – A Place to Visit”

  1. Agadir says:


    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.

  2. Raza Rumi says:

    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.

  3. 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.

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