Ban 'impressed' by exhibition of Pakistani contemporary art at UN

New York, 05 April 2016

A spectacular exhibition of Pakistani contemporary art by a mix of young and more established artists, which was viewed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, was inaugurated by US Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney before a large and distinguished gathering at UN Headquarters in New York on Monday.

Accompanied by Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, the UN chief went round the display of what she called "a slice of a lively and exciting art scene " in Pakistan, ahead of the formal opening of "New Pathways". The secretary-general evinced keen interest in the works of Pakistani artists, saying he was very impressed by their vision and thoughts. He spent considerable time viewing and appreciating a sculpture by Amin Gulgee, which also attracted much attention from the audience.

Exquisitely curated by Noshi Savul Qadir of Islamabad's Tanzara Gallery, the exhibition drew a large number of ambassadors accredited to the United Nations, top UN officials and art lovers.

Among those who attended were the Ambassadors of India, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon, US, Sweden, the Netherlands, Hungary, Luxemburg, Australia, Iran, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Palestine, Bangladesh, Mexico, Guatemala, Fiji, Kazakstan, Slovakia, Morocco and Ethiopia.

Ambassador Lodhi said the work of the Pakistani artists reflects the country's unique identity as a modern nation but an ancient civilization. "It represents the diversity and vitality of the cultural mosaic that makes up Pakistan."

Declaring the exhibition open, Congresswoman Maloney paid tributes to Ambassador Lodhi for her initiative aimed at promoting inter-cultural understanding, saying, "It is tremendously exciting to be able to see the innovative work being done by today's artists in Pakistan.

"From sculptors who use materials in new and interesting ways to painters who employ traditional themes and images in a contemporary setting, this is a fascinating glimpse of the breath of artistic talent being nurtured in Pakistan."

Ambassador Lodhi introduced to the large gathering the three artists who were present --Salman Toor, RM Naeem and Sana Arjumand. Also on display were the works of Amin GulGee, Jamil Naqsh, Atif Khan, Abdul Jabbar Gul, Mansoor Rahi, Abrar Ahmad and Ahmad Khan.

"This exhibition is an effort to build understanding between different cultures that by bringing the works of Pakistani artists to the international community at the United Nations," the Pakistani envoy said, adding, "They show in their prodigious expression the vibrant cultural reality of today’s Pakistan.

"Indeed, the present art landscape in the country is very prolific and lively. It presents a rich tapestry in which there is great diversity of subject matter and artistic technique and medium. This has made contemporary Pakistani art distinctive but at the same time attuned and connected to the wider world.

This exhibition, she said, was called New Pathways because that was what these groundbreaking works represent – seeking to chart a way forward by fresh and innovative means.

"These works also reflect the diversity and vitality of the cultural mosaic that makes up Pakistan," Ambassador Lodhi said.

"The works being exhibited here show how artists in Pakistan are interpreting the challenging but also hopeful times in which they live – drawing in one way or another on the country’s rich cultural legacy – and its ancient civilizational roots – while engaging with the socio-political realities of everyday life," she said.

"In one sense it is this fusion of the old and new, of tradition and modernity, that makes this exhibition so remarkable.

"Along with other creative voices in the country the works of art on display here represent the dynamism of a society that acknowledges its traditional heritage but also embraces the modern world.”

"Above all, the works of these artists convey, in all their colour and movement, the energy and vitality that defines today's Pakistan – a country on the upsurge, following 'new pathways' to a brighter future."

This event is the latest in the series of cultural projects undertaken by the Pakistan Mission in the last one year since Dr. Maleeha Lodhi assumed charge as Ambassador to UN.