AAN Gandhara Art Space offers a space in the city of Karachi where museum quality exhibitions of a longer duration are shown and encouraged. One of the key roles was to offer a place for the public to enjoy stellar exhibitions at home. A role of art patronage is not just providing support to artists but also to the art professionals who have made this their chosen field and enabling them to weave the narratives which will enable audiences to have a truly meaningful experience.
The exhibition programming is very robust and has always aimed to stretch the boundaries of exhibition making. With ‘Whitewash’, Gandhara in 2011 was the first space to show video and sound installations as well as performance art in one exhibition and in a single space. Artists therefore have always used the space creatively. It could be Abdullah Syed hurling rocks at a wall to create his installation or Atif Khan creating an in-situ installation by painting on the floor of the gallery. Both artists were part of the ‘Whitewash’ exhibition. Exhibiting a six-channel video installation by Bani Abidi at her solo exhibition and showing Ayesha Zulfiqar’s sand sculptures and installations in the space are just more examples of the ease at which Gandhara faces challenges in exhibition making.
The vision for Gandhara has always been to break ground and challenge notions of both practice as well as narrative. Ten years ago in 2007 when Gandhara showed Imran Qureshi and Aisha Khalid’s work in two solo exhibitions in Hong Kong, there was not much awareness of contemporary miniature from Pakistan. The exhibition showed video, in-situ installations as well as contemporary painting to build the narrative.
Apart from exhibitions Gandhara also provided early key funding and support for ‘Authority as Approximation’, Shahzia Sikander’s first solo public exhibition at Para-Site Art Space in Hong Kong in 2009 as well as funding for ‘Lines of Control’ at the Johnson Art Museum at Cornell University, New York.
The latest shows at AAN Gandhara Art Space have broken new ground with sound installations at the exhibition ‘The Fleet’ by Fazal Rizvi. ‘Rooms Afloat’ was a parallel project of the exhibition which led to a sound installation which was experienced in boats on the coast line of Karachi. The Art Space is now moving beyond the confines of the space to give the public even more experiential art projects.