Friday, January 20, 2012

Reclaiming a lost art and a forgotten civilisation

Reclaiming a lost art and a forgotten civilisation

Replica stone sculptures of the Buddha and Buddhist missionary positions were presented at the Rawalpindi Arts Council on Tuesday. PHOTOS: MUHAMMAD JAVAID

Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2012.
By Sehrish Ali

ISLAMABAD: One of the last of his kind, Shafeeq Ahmed, who is among the few remaining Gandhara art-form artists, showcased his replicas of ancient Buddhist stone sculptures at the Rawalpindi Arts Council (RAC) on Tuesday.

Given that Gandhara art shares traits with Japanese art, it seems fitting that the exhibition was inaugurated by the Japanese Embassy Counsellor Toshikazu Isomura. After the inauguration, Isomura was shown each piece with an explanation by Ahmed.

The artist also briefed the diplomat about the need for reviving the art form. “This is an ancient art-nearly two and a half thousand years old- The fact that it is fast becoming extinct is upsetting,” said the artist.

RAC Resident Director Naheed Manzur thanked Isomura for his presence and went on to state that during the struggle artists are facing in the country the support from their Japanese counterparts has been appreciated. “We hope to collaborate further with you,” she said adding that Ahmed should receive the Pride of Performance prize for both his work and for being the sole Gandhara artist in Pakistan.

Isomura was presented with an illustrated book on Gandhara art by noted artist Aftab Ahmed Khan.

While talking to The Express Tribune about his interest in the Gandharan art, Isomura said that this art form actually originated in Pakistan before coming to Japan where it has been embraced by local artists helping to form a relationship between the two countries”.

The work on display are replicas of ancient stone sculptures of either Buddha or Buddhists in meditation along with other artefacts reminiscent of Buddhist culture and religion. The stone sculptures will continue to be showcased at the RAC till January 13.


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