Newsweek homes in on Pakistan’s prominent women artists and why women seem over-represented among artists in that country:
One reason for the unusually high ratio of female artists in Pakistan has to do with the fact that the art industry has not traditionally been viewed as a lucrative business by men, says South Asian art historian Savita Apte, who administers the internationally renowned Abraaj Capital Art Prize. Until very recently, creatively inclined males tended to focus on fields such as advertising or illustration, leaving the art field wide open for some very talented women.
And these women have been taking the art world by storm: for last year’s inaugural Jameel Prize, an award given to Islamic artists at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, both finalists from Pakistan—Hamra Abbas and Seher Shah—were female. (The winner, Afruz Amighi, is an Iranian woman.) And at the Hong Kong International Art Fair this year, Pakistani painter Shahzia Sikander won the SCMP/Art Futures award.
Female Pakistani artists may also be drawing international buzz because of the way they defy gender stereotypes about their country. “Because of the perception in the Western press, which often portrays [Muslim] women as covered, when the world looks at Pakistan, they want to go into the minds of women,” says Amna Naqvi, a former investment banker, founder of Karachi’s Gandhara-Art gallery, and an important collector whose work has been lent to museums around the world.
Great Female Artists? Think Karachi (Newsweek)