Two Pakistanis have advanced to the final stage of the 2022 Sovereign Asian Art Prize, South Asia’s largest art prize. From over 400 entries, Ayessha Quraishi and Marium Agha were chosen. The finalists represent 16 Asian countries and regions, with Hong Kong having the most representatives, followed by China, Iran, Singapore, and Vietnam.
Marium Agha, 40, has a BFA from Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, an MFA from University of The Arts London, Central Saint Martins, London, and has finished a Curating Contemporary Art course at Chelsea School of Art and Design, London (2009).
According to the publication, Marium “finds a safe procedure in dissecting components of popular culture that no longer legitimise current sensibilities by examining the persistent nature of love for over a decade through images, philosophy, and the self.” “Agha’s deconstructed tapestries, drawings, and text serve to generate newer, more current narratives of the ‘given real,’ that is, love, and the ostensibly representational: the concupiscence of the flesh,” the statement continues.
“Created using found tapestries from a Karachi flea market, Agha has deconstructed the cloth and manipulated the weaving to create a new tale,” Marium explained. With a “ari” (embroidery needle), each thread is delicately carved into the existing surface.
Ayessha, the second finalist, has worked in a style that has come naturally to her since childhood, her method resembling braille. She is in continual physical contact with two materials: the surface and the paint. “Quraishi’s hands execute two functions at the same time,” the site explained, “the right imparting colour to the surface while the left cleanses it with a turpentine-soaked rag.” A visceral language of sequential mark marking emerges from this set of repetitive hand movements and actions. Memory, absence and presence, separation and unity are explored through the duality of shape and formlessness, making and un-making, adding and deleting.”
“The day could not pen what the night painted, captures the artists’ idea that the day and night are strung through a continuum of breaths; we have no memory of sleep, sensory experience, or recording,” the statement continued. We are not aware of sleeping when asleep, and it is only after we wake up that we realise we have slept. The body seeks rest in the absence of a sensory register. Our perceptions, polished by the light of consciousness, come to rest in imaginings of what life could be, just as the day rests in the lap of night and its volumed nothingness, according to Quraishi.
This year’s contenders include 27 newcomers to The Prize.