VASL Art

Artists' Statements

 

Alak Roy - Bangladesh

If the Terracotta Art of the Indian Subcontinent was born in the Indus Valley dating back to 7,000 years from now, then it reached its full youth and maturity in Bengal (Bangladesh and the West Bengal, India). So, when I was invited to participate in the ‘Vasl Artist Workshop’ in Pakistan I felt like hearing a clarion call coming from within myself to take up a pilgrimage to an ancestral home as I have been also working in terracotta. The very first day I touched the ' clay ' from Indus Valley to do my sculpture I had a ‘different’ feeling, as if I had gone back to Mohen-Jo-Daro at dawn of " clay culture " in Indian subcontinent and I decided to do a sculpture to pay my tribute to the artists of that time. Hence, I named my sculpture "Homage to the Terracotta Artists of the Indus Valley Civilization", being inspired by the pinching terracotta 'Mother Goddess'. Since fingers were the first tool of human civilization and principal tool of this kind of terracotta, I made a few large fingers and a head, inspired by a mother goddess of that period.

The other sculpture I made is called "Inner Eye of the Mother Earth". I made three large eyes in clay and placed them in three holes of different shapes and depths on the sea-beach. I also used different oxide and earth colours in that environmental work to make my sculpture a celebration of our beautiful world. At night, when the high tide would come, my sculpture would be washed away by the waters and disappear into nature again.

 

Andrey Rudyev - Russia

I have done two works during the VASL Workshop in Gadani. This are "Ded Moroz&others" and "Made in Pakistan". All the materials for the first one was brought from Russia and this 12 small "light-boxes" are the windows into fragments of my life, russian fragments. The second work "Made in Pakistan" (how we can see from the title) based on the local materials.This difference subjects connected by painted pipes and cabels should be a model of zivilization, a simbol of this model. In this installations I'd desided not only its own visual and plastic problems but also the main principe of it's creation is simbolize, in my opinion, the main idea of Workshop - penetration of some national tendences through a contact of different cultures and personal coversations into the general word proceses.

 

Auj Khan - Pakistan

Tyre slippers, Orange Oil paint, Wood

12 ft by 4ft

Cape Gadani:

I worked with slippers made out of tyres worn by the Balochi laborers. Fish is the major livelihood of the locals. His piece, shaped like a fish, covered in these slippers and painted orange was placed like a drawing on the beautiful stretch of blue. He saw the coast as a canvas and the simple form of fish as an intervention drawn out into the landscape.The simplified form of the piece was intended to move between the obvious (fish) to some sort of a probe.

Steel Plates, Mutka, Jute Mat, Enamel

Lunch Gadani:

A collaboration with a local painter called Rashid.

Rashid and Auj went around taking pictures of local people that Rashid knew and cared for. Then their portraits were painted on steel plates which the villagers use for their meals. These were set out as lunch on a jute mat.Collaborating with Rashid gave him a chance to interact with the whole group of artists and everyone got a chance to learn about his realities and dreams and appreciate his skill as an artist.

 

Awena Cozannet - France

Nude from Within

 

Christina Mackie - UK

Colours of Balochistan

The rocks at the point at Gadani varied in colour. Back from the cliffs, they were ground to fine sand in patches of purple, green, yellow, red, orange and white. The surface glowed when the sun was low. Our local hosts said that these are the colours of that whole area of Balochistan.

The sea during the good weather of our visit went from purplish turquoise to soft emerald green during the day and at night a silver reflection of the moon shimmered across the black sea. The stars were huge and bright especially when we had power cuts and there was no light spilling from the earth.

I gathered seven different pigments from the area in front of the guesthouse and sieved them to leave a fine powder. This powder was smoothed onto a layer of wet pale purple paint, which had been applied to the pillars of the main pavilion overlooking the beach. This colour was the predominant tone of the landscape and each pillar held a different tone. At the same time I painted the railing, which hung slightly outside the pillars, sea green. I wanted to accentuate the beautiful proportions of the pavilion’s design as well as to refer to the colours of this peninsula encircled by the green sea. I asked for the advice of locals and of the caretaker and they did approve of these changes.

On the roof I stood cups full of the same coloured sands in corresponding relation to each other as the pillars, encircled by a line delineating the railing. This tabletop formed of map that brought the pavilion into focus as the viewer looked between the actual thing and the representation.

The other works I showed dealt with several small shelters that had been erected around the picnic site and the guesthouse. I made studies in clay and rope in order to try to memorise their structure and proportions.

The paper model is of a hut that had been built using weathered pieces of plywood and other material from the ship-breaking yard. To represent these panels I used panels of watercolour that I’d previously made to study the colour palette of the landscape.

 

Entang Wiharso - Indonesia

Stepping into the cool of the Jakarta airport from the moist, steamy overgrowth of Java’s landscape I was thinking to myself, “Is it worth it to go to this workshop in Pakistan? I hate flying. ”As soon as I landed and emerged into the foreign landscape of Karachi and then Gadani the onslaught of sense images and impressions dissolved my doubts. I needed this confirmation that the world is complex and rich in ways we can’t anticipate and must be experienced.

Disorientation and the struggle to inhabit and interpret our actual/virtual, techno-saturated global terrain is at the core of much of my current work. Pakistan’s stark togography combined with its pockets of extravagance (those gaudy, festival-on-wheels buses!) opened doors in my mind and I grew new sensory nerve endings. This was the perfect primer for an intense interaction with fellow artists. Taken to the isolation of Gadani beach I lived a rich, creative three weeks that continue to resonate in my thinking and artwork. Before I didn’t know about the artscene in Pakistan and now I am more aware of what is happening there and how artists are creating art from different cultural sources. Pakistan and Indonesia are predominantly Muslim countries, but the way artists use or approach the Muslim world is very different.

I’m thankful for all the artists I met with different kinds of perspectives like Navjot, Alak, Hamra, Andrey, Masooma, Christina, Zeeshan, Beate, Richard and so on. They opened my eyes to see the world more completely.

 

Moeen Faruqi - Pakistan

Gadani

  • The sea and the rocks and their reaches, the sound of water and its constant breaking.

 

  • Memory dampened by new light, a white evanescence swirling around the feet.

 

  • With every coming the ocean’s hiss.

 

  • Spray and sand slowly turn the evening. a picture painted, and painted again.

 

  • This beach will bring new forms of beginning like the wind and its music, the shell-song of bright stars, beyond this rock, this sea.

 

Mahreen Zuberi - Pakistan

Samuel Shi in his samurai outfit and samurai discipline working away; Basel the man with monumental sculptures on his profile sitting for days in front of a tiny cardboard model, planning out a monument that later I teased, looked like a small dog out of a Picasso; Masooma working with the skull of a dog and commenting with a lot of compassion, “kuttay bhe to phir insaan he hotay hain na” (afterall dogs are also human).

 

24 artists. One quirkier then the other. Yet together a very normal bunch.

Gadani was lovely… and everyone wearing red nail colour was just beautiful!

 

I started work in gadani with a series of drawings of switches and sockets, in unassuming place, meant to go unnoticed. Next, on 14th February I started work titled “Happy valentines day”, where I painted every participating artists’ toes red, and documented it in the form of digital photographs. It was a bit like the mad scientist experimenting with gender. These photographs were deliberately displayed on a landing space between the ground floor and the roof. This space became a waiflike meeting for the opposites. The wall adjacent to the photographs held a grid designed for the previously drawn switches and sockets. The red vertical lines intersecting the blue ones running horizontally, were laid out inconspicuously to become one with their setting.

 

Muhammad Zeeshan - Pakistan

Gadani was a plat form provided by VASL where artists from different cultures and walks of life had an interaction on a global level. For me it was an opportunity to work with the senior most artists whom I could only read in the papers or take a look at their works online. Coming face to face with such seniority was not only a rich experience but also very informative one. Mrs. Hashmi has always been a Mentor to me but VASL gave me an opportunity to meet her on an artist level.

Gadani catered to various artists with varying careers and ages. That was something unique about this workshop. The environment of Gadani was an added spice. Through out the workshop we were isolated in that place, sharing our views ,work, life styles, problems and even when we went outside Gadani we naturally stuck together facilitating each other where needed. VASL allowed me to break away from my medium and technique of miniature and try something different in various media. I produced an installation of a rock which was a landmark of Gadani. The rock had been lying in those waters for ages now. So much so that the water had broken it from places and altered its shape a great many times. it was static and immovable...but what I realized was that if I start moving around the rock it seemed to move with me. I sketched that rock from six different angles...and realized that things seemed static only when we ourselves are static. To bring a change or to do something in life we have to first put our input and change ourselves. I used safety pins in connection with the bubble wrap to create the rock illusion in my installations. Another form of my installation had safety pins neatly stuck on a black cloth to produce a 69 position. This symbol holds for me a figurative extension. My third installation comprised of numerous safety pins opened and put in a bowl with a caption saying KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN. Safety pins though are used to secure something and yet one has to pierce the surface and puncture a certain area before securing it. Yet when they are opened and put collectively they can also be harmful and damaging. In the end I would like to thank Naiza for giving me this opportunity to work at VASL Gadani would also like to congratulate the VASL team for organizing such a marvelous event where one learnt a lot but also had fun and a lot of amazing interacting with some very wonderful people.

 

Navjot Altaf - India

Sharing a common space to live, work and eat together encourages an interaction amongst artists at multiple levels and simultaneously in most cases artists find a ‘space’ to react / respond to the Surroundings and to explore the history /culture of the place. I think that this space – for international artist’s workshops is one space for the artists, as intellectuals - to discuss the complexities of dealing with the issues they are engaged with or affected by. It could become possible to know how artists from different countries / different cultural backgrounds /different age groups review the contemporary socio - political, economic and cultural situation in the context of their own practice and in the context of both local and global theoretical discourses. Also what the common / different use of terminology means to each.

I personally believe that an intellectual’s role is to represent specific views, ideas and ideologies. Intellectuals’ as Edward Said writes, “...need to have a sense of association with others – other intellectuals….”(Representations of the Intellectual – p.120: 1993). It is this need to develop and create a sense of association with other intellectuals, which makes me accept invitations to such workshops and stimulates me to organize ventures to further our associations with artists from different cultures.

However, the concept of artists workshops ought not to be generalized as the organizational strategies, nature of funding, group of invited artists from different countries etc. vary from workshop to workshop.

The work: The concept of an interactive photo based work ‘RockShock’ evolved from the fact of being watched by the police guards on duty to protect the artists wherever they went in and around Gadani. If we had physically tried reaching a site, which was not so easily accessible, guards would have accompanied us to assure our ‘safety’. Hence participating artists were invited to imagine how to reach the site selected by myself and if they managed to reach, how would they like to imagine themselves in that space.

 

Richard Kimathi - Kenya

I knew nothing would happen to me,i felt safe and protected by the police!Bravo pakistani policemen!i took alot of tea and coffee than usual,after all it was available and ready for me,the food was hot for me but thats fine!!somehow i got used to it,and i guess it was medium.i thank all the participating artists for being real artists and creating a very artistic atmosphere for everyone in and out of the workshop.i not only did paintings but also learned alot from fellow artists,and the slide show was the climax.we created a family for ourselves within two weeks to last forever.

 

Samuel Hsuan Yu Shih - Taiwan ROC

A World without Clay

Chinese White

I am not sure how I discover this plastic color. Yet under the circumstance of language barrier and unfamiliar space, Chinese white offers me a sense of hospitality. That is why I redefine the relationship of white and oriental. (note 1)The first piece has a strong inspiration. I used toilet paper to write and impress. The color and texture of this material resemble Chinese rice paper. Moreover, it refers to “help seeking.” People write on the toilet paper only in desperate need. During that particular moment, I was extremely desperate for supports. Therefore, the piece features a white table drifting in the waves. I believe that a working table has the closest contact with an artist. It is like a drift wood that I have to rely on while in the ocean.

Memory Poetry 14

It is very difficult to gather material in Gadani. While wandering in Pakistan, I anxiously need “contact.” Though I was eager for postcard and stamps, I was unable to locate these items after three weeks of search. Therefore I began to pack my memories by using found materials around my workshop. I then reassemble theses items to record my vision with action.

Note 1: Chinese red and Chinese blue were used to be the two colors I considered to be most oriental.

 

Salima Hashmi - Pakistan

It was not without some trepidation that I joined Vasl’s second international workshop. Most of the participants were young, deeply involved in their ongoing practice. For me it was the opportunity to step back from teaching, writing and administration for a short parcel of time and allowing myself the luxury of sharing the process of art making with a diverse group. There were other luxuries too, at Gadani. There was time to watch the sun rise over the cliffs…. Time, uninterrupted by the days’ pressures.

For some reason the lines from ‘Zindaan ki ek shaam’ by Faiz were my companions each night as the moon made a brief appearance to colour the waves silver, and shared the silence.

Silent too, was the encounter with the whiteness of paper, the darkness of the mark. Making an artistic statement was somehow not a concern. Finding myself distanced from everything in more ways than one, the temptation to turn back to one’s earlier practice was strong. But I chose instead to meander. The pleasure of touching, spreading, wrapping, tracing, tearing, burnishing, marking and seeing was engrossing and enveloping. I made random choices of image, and found materials working concurrently on the stretch of the wall, and the thorn bush, found along the beach.

Around me there were others with urgent pre-occupations and energetic investigations. Wandering in and out of their unfolding ideas was stirring, heartening and comforting.

Looking back now I muse on what it was all about… Stepping into deep reservoirs, half forgotten and now remembered. That was made possible by Vasl. A gift to me.

 

Sheherbano Hussain - Pakistan

My art practice has revolved largely around the self – exploring psychological and emotional states has been the dominant feature in my work, through the use of both personal and archetypal symbols. While this approach has its rewards and merits, it often means spending many solitary hours in the studio.

The VASL workshop was a welcome break from my somewhat self-imposed isolation; it was great to connect with like-minded individuals, grappling with similar concerns and hoping to achieve the same ends. While I had many ideas and works in progress prior to the workshop, I wanted to remain open and see what the energy of the workshop would lead to.

The idea of the shrine grew out of the numerous conversations I had with artists during the workshop – while some were trapped in painful and volatile relationships, others were either recently divorced or still agonizing over what could have been. I became interested in capturing the human dimension of the workshop, since a majority of the time was spent dwelling on the topic of love.

I wanted to make this an interactive piece, so I asked the artists to scribble their thoughts on the walls of the shrine, as a cathartic release for their feelings. The shrine was placed in a pagoda-like structure overlooking the sea, with steps leading towards it, similar to the approach of many shrines in this region.

 

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