Nude art a rude shock in Islamabad

Toilet, Graphic 40x32cm by Amin-ul-Islam
(photograph courtesy of the NAG)

Requesting anonymity, an artist told Daily Times that the NAG management should understand that the gallery was a public property and only such items should be put on display that pleased the public. “In a private gallery one can project the art one likes but at NAG one can’t risk projecting art of their choice,” he said.

Following the agenda of “enlightened moderation”, the PNCA is portraying women not more than an entity or a showpiece and more surprisingly three women own “Khazana”, which displays female nude.

There is a four-year contract of the souvenir shop between Nageen Rehman, Ghania Baddar and Attiya Zafar and the PNCA.

PNCA defends: Jamal Shah, PNCA Executive Director, said that nude art was a creation of senior artist Naseem Hafiz Qazi, which was put on display on a temporary basis. However, he denied its unacceptability by the public.

“It is just an allegation that people don’t like this art. In fact a huge number of people appreciate it,” he insisted.

He said the galleries and museums of the world project such art then why could not Pakistan project it. “The gallery should present all kinds of art and there is no harm in presenting nude art when a number of people like it,” he defended.

[From Daily Times – Leading News Resource of Pakistan – Nude art at Khazana shocks public]

I disagree that a museum’s job is to present work that appeals to everyone. I see it as the point of a museum to push our minds, to make us think of new concepts in new ways, to remember the mistakes of the past and to look towards the future. I think their role is to challenge and defy our conventions of thinking. I would even go so far as to say that the museum’s responsibility is to help us forge new cognitive paths forward.
I do think that it is very progressive of the Islamabad National Art Gallery to display nude artworks, a huge leap forward when so many middle eastern museums and galleries ban nude art as a matter of course. The outcry can hardly be unexpected given the conservative religious attitudes of many of it’s patrons. and to run two exhibitions recently with nudes is a big step that cannot have been undertaken lightly. The progressive attitude of this gallery continues with over 60% female artists. The gallery is laid out in a series of themed rooms, still lifes, landscapes and of course, nudes. the layout strikes me as a prudent way to display a key area of art and art history while still respecting the religious views of a large portion of the population.

3 thoughts on “Nude art a rude shock in Islamabad

  1. Once again, I’ve started to write a comment here, and it’s turned into a rant, and I’ve just wiped it rather than inflict it upon you and your readers.

    Please, keep up the blog, I love reading it and your thoughts.

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