Aisha Bashir

Firdous Mangi

Rabia S. Akhtar

Art Writer in Residence


Echoes of the Walls – Vasl Artists’ Association Taaza Tareen 12, 2020

‘Echoes of the Walls’ is the culmination of Vasl Artists’ Association’s flagship artists’ residency program, Taaza Tareen 12. The residency invited four emerging artists and an art writer from a dense submission of over a hundred applicants from all over Pakistan. Taaza Tareen is Vasl’s annual residency which was founded in 2005. It was devised as a steppingstone for fresh graduates from various Pakistani art institutions who are in need of support in order to build their ideas into careers, early in their practice. Taaza Tareen residencies have supported over 69 artists at this formative stage of their professional life. Exceptional visual artists are awarded the ‘KKAF- Vasl Research Grant’ by the Taaza Tareen residency, which is selected by a panel of entrenched art professionals.

This year, for the 12th rotation of the program, Vasl is proud to present artists-in-residence Aisha Bashir, Rawalpindi; Firdous Mangi, Karachi/Larkana; Osama Rehman, Karachi; Suleman Faisal, Lahore and Art Writer in Residence, Rabia S. Akhtar, Karachi through a digital launch featuring their new works and research.

Echoes of the Walls subliminally reflects the state of the artists as they manoeuvred their practices through a shift of geographies, experiences and emotions, instigated by the pandemic. The initially scheduled six week residency continued for twenty six weeks (February 24, 2020 – July 25, 2020) as the artists were moved back into their cities and homes, for an online residency.

Imitation of these contemporary uncertainties reek through the artists’ works; Aisha Bashir, from Rawalpindi, plays with the idea of chance and fate while proposing a fortune producing game online. While trailing along the ideas of changes and unexpected transitions, Bashir also carefully curates and journals her thoughts of the everyday. Speaking on a similar tangent of unprecedented transitions, Osama Rehman, based in Karachi, studies the insidious diffusion of COVID19. He investigates the textures and seepage on the walls of his home, suddenly more pronounced in hours of idleness and concentration, becoming metaphors for the sinister spread of the virus, creeping through homes and communities and acquiring shades of pain, grief and loss. Rehman’s work pushes boundaries of digital mediums for this residency with digital paintings, sound pieces and photographs; whereas the tactility of the works become an essential part of Suleman’s and Firdous’ process.

Examining the relationship between nature and man-made forces, Firdous Mangi, from Karachi/Larkana, continues to feature nature in her delicate, handmade compositions of flora – a meditative practice that she explicitly followed through the duration of the residency. Suleman Faisal, Lahore, working parallel to tangible experiences, explores the act of communal harmony and discord. Faisal explains the paradox through the lens of cooking, which has an inherent aggressive element to it, as it involves killing an animal or plucking a live vegetation from the earth. As a pacifist, enjoying, preparing and sharing meals with family and friends, he reflects on the violent act of slicing, chopping, the antithesis of the joy of sharing, while building comparisons to societal violence.

As a form of recording the practices of the artists’ in residence, Rabia Akhtar, from Karachi, was introduced to the residency. Akhtar, a profound artist and art writer further elaborated on each of the artists processes through curated, special edition publications while intervening with her thoughts, words, reflections and traces.

‘Echoes of the Walls’ continues to digitally impart the idea of the Taaza Tareen 12 Vasl artists’ residency. The works of these artists will be launched on all platforms of Facebook, Instagram and Vasl’s website on August 7, 8 and 9 (Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectively). The residency has been generously supported and sponsored by Canvas Gallery, Khurram Kasim Art Foundation, Hum TV, Aliya and Farouk Khan Collection, Fatima Munir and Adnan Amjad, Shamain Akbar and Ziad Bashir.

About Vasl-KKAF Research Grant:

The Vasl Research Grant is designed in order to be awarded to surfacing visual artists who are not only diligent in their respective works but committed to their practice by showing dedication and an avid interest in building close ties within the arts community. Vasl acknowledges emerging artists who are in need of support, this allows artists to take risks and explore dynamic routes in order to forge unique career paths for themselves. Recipients receive the opportunity to build relationships with varied engaging individuals, the Vasl network in addition to a solo exhibition at the prestigious Canvas Gallery, Karachi.

Since 2019, the Canvas Gallery has been hosting culminating exhibitions of the Vasl Research Grant.

From 2019 up until 2021, the Khurram Kasim Art Foundation (KKAF) sponsors the yearlong Vasl Research Grant. KKAF has been established in order to provide a platform that supports all modes of artistic expressions from and within Pakistan.

Fatima Munir & Adnan Amjad        Shamain Akbar        Ziad Bashir