The National delves deeper into Pakistani art unearthing a new pre-occupation with terrorism foisted upon the artists. As terrorism grows impossible to ignore in the country, middle class Pakistanis have begun to react and comment on the scourge through their art:
The visual artist Zahra Syed spent last year teaching at Lahore’s Beaconhouse National University (BNU) and highlights the growing trend among the country’s contemporary young artists to comment on negative aspects of Pakistani life. “Of course Pakistani art engages with the terrorism; for one, because it’s increasingly the tag by which Pakistanis are perceived by the rest of the world, and also because it is becoming increasingly real,” Syed says.
Reports of suicide bombings, kidnappings, hijacks and shootings that pepper news coverage of the country may contribute to the growth of an unfair stereotype, but the impact of attacks by terrorist networks on the country is hard to ignore. […] The engagement with terrorism in art is not always blatant. Many artists pivot away from overt references, choosing to comment on themes of paranoia, fear, disorder, tyranny, poverty, inequality, repression and abuse. […]
The distinctly Pakistani contemporary miniature paintings many artists are creating borrow heavily from illuminated Mughal manuscript tradition and many more are developing already well-established genres through their work. Reza comments on the impact of acts of terror through sculpture, saying: “Sculpture has long been one of the most popular forms of fine art, a primary means of artistic expression.” With the changing face of Pakistan’s artistic messages, though, also come emerging contemporary genres: mixed media, visual art and film, web posts, interactive and graphic design techniques are flourishing in Lahore’s most prestigious art colleges.[…] Middle-class student backgrounds and the almost avant-garde nature of much of Pakistan’s contemporary art keep its creators from forming the backbone of a popular “anti-terror” protest movement. Exhibitions are confined to upmarket galleries and art-centric internet forums. In a country where survival can be a struggle, the numbers of students studying to become doctors, lawyers and engineers far outstrips the numbers producing art.
The Art of Expression (The National)