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by Virginia Whiles
Publisher: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc./Viva Books
Price (INR):Rs 995.00
Price (USD): $ 24.88
Pakistan has become a central pivot in contemporary global politics: but what does Western world know of its culture? In recent decades, Pakistan has seen a revival and radical reinvention of miniature painting, a traditional artform which had originally flourished under the patronage of the Mughal Empire in the sixteenth century and which had declined under the colonial influence of the British. Miniature painting has become the major movement in Pakistani contemporary art, and international exhibitions have been enthusiastically received by the global art community.
In this first detailed examination of the phenomenon of contemporary miniature painting in Pakistan, Virginia Whiles reveals how artists engage with and respond to underlying political, historical and cultural tensions. In contrast to India, where the miniature tradition is preserved only through its tourist industry of reproduction, miniature painting in Pakistan has broken free of its traditional cast and has become a medium for its artists to challenge the world around them. Although the paintings are rendered with ornate traditional technique, in content they provide a subtle, satirical treatment of serious issues: from religious and political fundamentalism to "McDonalization", from violence against women to nuclear warfare, from the pressure of Purdah to the machismo of lollywood film posters.
Art and Polemic in Pakistan provides a fascinating insight into Pakistani responses to national and international issues through the medium of miniature painting, and over sixty paintings from artists based at the national College of Art in Lahore - the institute at the heart of the contemporary movement - are reproduced here in full colour. Whiles therefore sheds new light upon the links between art and culture politics, and between indigenous and global aesthetics, presenting an artform which challenges common Western assumptions about Asian art.
Contents: Introduction: Miniature Manoeuvres: Performative knowledge • Global flows and the agency of artworks • Performative reading • Social, Political and Historical Formations Relating to Miniature Practice: Traditional and Identity • Gender and patriarchy • Militancy and fundamentalism • Economics and globalization • Everyday life • Cameo 1: Mohammed Imran Qureshi • Cameo 2: Aisha Khalid • Miniature Practice: The miniature department • Teachers and training • Zahoor-ul-Akhlaq • The present ustad: Bashir Ahmend • Training • Image and text • Drawing exercises • Wasli preparation • Copying • Pigments • Brush work • Time and theory • Group X • Experimental techniques • Group O • Inter-group tensions • Miniature department exhibition • Reflections • Cameo 3: Nusra Latif Qureshi • Cameo 4: Saira Wasim • Imagining or Inventing the Tradition of Miniature Painting?: Patronage and patriarchal attitudes • Tradition, orientalism and nationalism • Discursive links • The traditional art course • The language debate • Reflections • Cameo 5: Khadim Ali • Cameo 6: Hamra Abbas • Miniature Practice and Aesthetics: Social and Visual, Local and Global: Four points of view • Western art history and its shifts • The post-colonial context • Hybrid pedagogies, social aesthetics and constructed communitites • Indigenous aesthetics • The Karkhana Project • Phenomenology and corporeal aesthetics • Sensorial or detached viewing • Sacred and secular, popular and elitist • Popular culture and the practice • Audience and attitudes towards aesthetics • Reflections • Cameo 7: Ahsan Jamal • Cameo 8: Ayesha Durrani • Workshop and Studio Production: The Lahore workshop/school • Workshops in India •Trading miniatures • Contracts between workshop and studio production • Cameo 9: Hasnat Mehmood • The Global "Art-World": Discursive formations • Diffusion • Craftmanship as a valorised attribute • Ethinicity as a market value • Gender and globalisation • Global reception • Local reception • Market and art-world patronage • Private, State and Corporate patronage • Reflections • Conclusions: Tradition and identity • Class and gender • Political outlook • Aesthetic issues • Market and globalisation • Performative subversion?.
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