Pakistan Art Forum supports Artists tackling Taboo Topics

First established in 2014, The Pakistan Art Forum provides a safe space for emerging artists tackling taboo topics.

Pakistan Art Forum supports Artists tackling Taboo Topics f

"I consider the female body as a landscape of society"

The world of art in Pakistan is a form of expression to portray social issues and push boundaries.

Similar to neighbouring countries, the art sector is dominated by themes, styles and aesthetics.

The Pakistan Art Forum (PAF), was created in 2014 with the aim to bypass traditional protectors of art in the country.

With the help of social media and other such platforms, PAF was given the opportunity to feature a variety of artists and styles.

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, an address was created via the forum, with the intention of becoming a safe space for artists, who would be given free rein to push boundaries with their art.

These boundaries include things such as identity, sexuality, power and the challenge of patriarchy. In other words, themes considered to be taboo in Pakistan.

PAF founder Imtisal Zafar said:

“Throughout the ages, art has been a medium of reform, resistance, used to highlight various social dilemmas.

“It is important for us to not only curate shows that are aesthetically appealing, but also to use art as a medium to shed light on various issues.”

Zainab Aziz is an upcoming young artist who showcases female strength on a day-to-day basis.

She works largely with oil paints and has a signature style of working with black-and-white to highlight societal hypocrisy.

Speaking of her work, Zainab says:

“My work revolves around female protagonists, the way they share their secrets and bond.

“I consider the female body as a landscape of society which bears multiple stories within it.”

A number of pieces from Zainab’s solo show, Misty Tales of Women, capture the daily essence of a woman’s life and portray how they have an expectation to trust their surroundings.

Pakistan Art Forum supports Artists tackling Taboo Topics

A former student of Pakistan’s College of Art and Design, and the National College of Arts, Zainab accepts that both institutions have given her the opportunity to become more able in her art.

Despite this, she feels there is not enough connectivity for young upcoming artists in order for them to be recognised in the artistic world.

Speaking about her troubles, Zainab said:

“I have faced a lot of difficulties as a Pakistani artist, as we do not get the exposure we deserve, domestically or internationally.

“One has to struggle by themselves to make their name in the art world.”

Zainab went on to say that the PAF was the only platform in Pakistan that offered support to upcoming artists.

She said the objective was to assist new artists in getting their work sold, by offering guidance and support in showing artists the correct way to showcase their work in galleries, as well as getting them online exposure.

Ahmer Farooq is another emerging artist who sheds light on the undercover life of queer people who are pressured into getting married in order to maintain a ‘normal’ lifestyle.

He revealed that his work was rejected by an art gallery because of his concept. He also stated that his art was not given press coverage due to the fear of backlash and legal ramifications.

Ahmer commented that he felt grateful for the PAF because his work had never been rejected and he was given the ability to work without prejudice.

Speaking of his art, Ahmer said that on the surface his work was vibrant, but there were deeper messages hidden, that were visible to the trained eye.

Sana is from a law background who's pursuing her love of writing. She likes reading, music, cooking and making her own jam. Her motto is: "Taking the second step is always less scarier than taking the first."

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