Ali Kazim, Cancerfund - Galle Exhibition

Ali Kazim attempts to inspire and instil faith in the people and a down-trodden society through his series, ‘Man of Faith’ for the Cancerfund-Galle exhibition, 2021. The collection, a series of portraits of the people that surround the artist are those that depict belief, those that transpire a sense of faith. And through these portraits, the artist intends to create a space where individuals feel at rest in challenging and tumultuous environments. Thus, he creates for ‘Tonight No Poetry Will Serve’. The Cancerfund-Galle exhibition was founded by Pakistani artist and writer, Mariah Lookman; she initiated the exhibition in attempt to provide a medium through which cancer patients find solace and healing through art. The exhibition brings together twenty-four artists from across the globe to aid in this initiative. Pakistani artist Ali Kazim is one of the selected artists who will be showcasing his work for this initiative as he attempts to inspire faith through intriguing portraits of individuals he has interacted with throughout his experiences.

A series of watercolour paintings that take on the name, ‘Man of Faith’ depicts individuals facing away from the front of the canvas, portraits that have deliberately been made to avoid eye-contact; his paintings are granular, the impressions upon the skin of the subject visible. The artist explains, in our conversation, his intention to include Gandharan artefacts – symbols of religion and faith. Each visual aspect of the artist's works intentional and obvious - the degrees and nuances of applications and methodologies utilized to facilitate his intention to transpire faith to the viewer and thus, becomes the ideal response to a showcase that speaks to individuals with cancer. We conversed with the artist to understand his views on art’s capacity to heal and his journey throughout while exploring what his works mean.

Q | What inspired you to engage with art, and choose art as a means of expressing yourself?

A | It’s the urge to create or make something that is usually a starting point then one gets engages with more complex issues related to the work both in term of its conceptual and formal aspects, sometimes it’s the other way around.  

Q | To what extent do you believe art helps with catharsis and healing?

A | It does help to some degree but art making is more complex than the catharsis. When one starts making work at some pointduring the process the work also dictates you and give clues howto take it further. At that point one has to let go the emotionsattached to the work and have to follow its language in order complete it.

Q | What are you working on/worked on for ‘Tonight No Poetry Will Serve’ and how do you perceive it playing a role in contributing to the framework set?

A | These days I’m working on Man of Faith series, making very intense portraits of the people around me and throwing ceramics inspired from the Gandharan artefacts. The faith often helps in difficult times specially the challenging time the whole world is going through.

Q | What of the Sri Lankan art scene do you resonate with, and find riveting?

A | There are some amazing projects going on in Sri Lankan art scene, recently the Colomboscope has successfully organised its seventh edition and the Raking Leaves Publishing is also doing a great job. I’ve been to Sri Lanka a few times, first time in 2003for an artist residency organised by the George Keyt foundation. After that, for a maiden solo exhibition at the Paradise Road Galleries. I cherish the love and warmth I’ve received during my visits then of course the beautiful countryside and the spicey foodI often think of.

Q | Can you tell us about the Pakistan contemporary art scene and its growth and character throughout the years?

A | It’s been more vibrant for some times now particularly since the Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad literary festival started taking place on regular bases. Then the Karachi and the Lahore Biennial foundations has successfully curated two editions each. The both foundations managed to bring the international artists and audience to Pakistan. I think it will strengthen the local art scene and will bring new voices in focus.  

Ali Kazim was born in Pakistan, 1979. His career began with his apprenticeship for a painter of circus hoardings. After his short-term work in nursing, the artist obtained his degree in fine art at the National College of Arts, Lahore where he presently holds a permanent position as a faculty member. Following his graduation from the College, Ali Kazim obtained his Master’s at the Slade, London. His work has been exhibited across the globe in solo and group exhibitions including the Asia Pacific Triennial, Queensland Brisbane, Australia in 2018, the Karachi Biennale 01 and 02 in 2017 & 2019, the Lionel Wendt Gallery in 2003, and more. His works are held in public and private collections including the Metropolitan Museum, New York, the Asia Pacific Museum, Pasadena, the Samdani Foundation, Dhaka and more. Some of his awards include short listed for the BMW Art Journey prize at Art Basel Hong Kong (2018); Juried prize at the Inaugural Karachi Biennale (2017) The Land Securities Studio Award, London; and the Melville Nettleship Prize for Figure Composition, UCL, London (2011). Ali Kazim will showcase his works next at the Cancerfund-Galle exhibition. The exhibition will begin at the esteemed Barefoot Gallery on the 17th of November 2021 till the 28th of November 2021 and will also open at the Galle Fort Art Gallery on the 20th of November 2021 till the 5th of December 2021.  

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28th September, 2021 Visual Art | Paintings