Contemporary Artist Rashid Rana Holds Exclusive Tour At COMO Museum
Hamza Waqas attended an exclusive event at a newly established museum of contemporary and modern art. Pakistan’s leading artist Rashid Rana was there to talk about his work and its significance.
In the heart of Lahore, a seemingly ordinary lane is now home to an extraordinary site — a new contemporary art museum.
The aesthetically pleasing, modernist structure definitely stands out. The art that inhabits the building is breathtaking.
As you enter the grounds of the museum, you’re welcomed by the team that runs the day to day activities.To your right you’ll find a book store; the much awaited new branch of The Last Word, and across the back yard, a stone path leads to a cafe.
The welcoming and hospitable atmosphere does justice to the passion of the artists whose work is on display inside, attracting guests from all over Lahore.
The museum is open to the public, however I had the pleasure of visiting during one of its finest events to date. Rashid Rana, an internationally recognized and extremely talented contemporary artist, gave an exclusive tour of his art work at COMO Museum.
Through the interactive, immersive experience, we got a glimpse into the thought process behind his work.
The first piece introduced to the audience was entitled Red Carpet, one of the artist’s most well-known works. From a distance, it feels like it embodies a certain oriental view of Pakistani society.
As you observe keenly, you see that the mosaic of the large carpet has been constructed out of a wide array of predominantly crimson tile like images, and as you come closer you see that the images are of gruesome scenes of slaughtered livestock. From what we understood the ‘slaughter’ referred to the fallout of Pakistan’s experience of War on Terror, and aimed to depict the violence experienced by people that was both political and sectarian in nature.
Although the artist doesn’t deny that there was a time when even the mainland of Pakistan was under constant threat, he pointed out the narrow scope of international coverage that was done from a strictly security standpoint. The clash between two perceived views of what Pakistani society ‘represents’, was intentional.
The artist previously touched upon his views on the different ways to approach art, as well as nationalism. The artist had explored issues of identity before moving on to explaining the first piece. He said that artists today have more opportunities to express their individuality as those before. He went on to say that jingoism bred narrow mindedness and animosity towards others, emphasizing the need to staying true to ones own voice. In response to a question, he added that when it comes to art, the meaning is fluid, and interpretations can vary and differ, and that often art seems to speak for itself, and seems to take on a life of its own.
The artist emphasized that creative poetic expression comes in various forms, and that one doesn’t have to necessarily label themselves and associate with one era, art movement or region.
He said that although some may find refuge in the ‘glorious past’ and the revival of it, all eras belong to artists and can inspire their work. During the tour, the audience was given samples of his previous work that the artist would then refer to provide context and display the diverse range of ideas that he’s brought to life. In addition, the tour had two Q&A sessions
To truly understand and appreciate art one shouldn’t rely solely on the opinions of others, and should experience it first hand. Rana’s work is multi-layered and speaks to the audiences according to their personal dispositions. Pakistan should be proud of figures like Rana who inspire local and global audiences alike.
COMO is a great addition to Lahore’s cultural landscape and a much needed space for contemporary art and dialogue.