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Aiming to bridge divides, Karachi art exhibition brings together 100 painters from across Pakistan

Buraq Shabbir

KARACHI: As the National Art Exhibition 2023 kicked off at the Arts Council of Pakistan (ACP) in Karachi this week, its organizer shared the exhibition aimed to bridge the ethnic, political, and sectarian divides by bringing together painters from all over Pakistan.

The three-day exhibition is being held at the Ahmed Parvez art gallery and is a collaboration between the ACP and the National Artists Association of Pakistan.

The exhibition features artworks of a diverse lineup, including Anwar Maqsood, Ijazul Hassan, Zulfiqar Zulfi, Farrukh Shahab, AS Rand, Moin Farooqui, Shahid Rasam and Abbas Kamangar.

“Despite cultural diversity, there is a lot of ethnic, political, and sectarian divide across Pakistan,” ACP President Mohammad Ahmed Shah told Arab News on Saturday.

“To bridge that, we are holding National Arts Exhibition that features works of prominent painters from all four provinces.”

Paintings made by artists from all four provinces of Pakistan on display during the National Art Exhibition 2023

While Punjab was the hub, Shah informed, the ACP received artworks from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Balochistan and Sindh.

“The purpose is to create national integrity through culture and art,” he said. “All these colors [in the paintings] are depicting their respective cultures.”

The exhibition first took place in Lahore over a month ago after which it is being organized in the southern port city of Karachi, according to the organizer.

Those who weren’t part of the Lahore exhibition are also showcasing their work at the Karachi show.

“Artists can make an effort to work toward reducing the ethnic divide,” Quddus Mirza, an art critic, told Arab News. “Any creative act brings people together irrespective of their differences.”

Veteran artist Ajab Khan said art had never had boundaries.

“The field of art is associated with love,” he told Arab News. “An artist is only able to produce colors on the canvas with love.”

Shah said the gallery is often visited by art collectors.

“The art exhibition is a welcome change,” Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori said as he inaugurated the exhibition on Friday. “Social evils were born in the country when poets, intellectuals and painters had been silenced in the past.”