Hanging Fire is the first U.S. museum exhibition to focus on contemporary art from Pakistan. Representing the current energy, vitality, and range of expression in Pakistan’s little-known yet thriving arts scene, the exhibition comprises nearly 50 works by 15 artists, and includes installation art, video, photography, painting, and sculpture. Curated by Salima Hashmi—one of the most influential and well-respected writers and curators in Pakistan—the exhibition presents a comprehensive look at recent and current trends in Pakistani art.
The exhibition begins with one of the last major works by the late artist Zahoor ul Akhlaq, considered the founder of modernism in Pakistan, who was tragically murdered in 1999 and whose work continues to influence younger artists. The recently established and distinctly Pakistani genre of contemporary miniature painting is examined through works by artists such as the celebrated Imran Qureshi, who skillfully manipulates the technical discipline and meaning of the hallowed illuminated Mughal manuscript tradition. Qureshi will create a site-specific painting at Asia Society for the exhibition.
The exhibition’s title, Hanging Fire, refers to an idiom that means “to delay decision.” In the context of the exhibition, the title evokes the idea of delaying judgment, particularly based on assumptions or preconceived notions about contemporary society and artistic expression in Pakistan. It also alludes to the contemporary economic, political, and social tensions––both local and global––from which these artists find their creative inspiration.
A full color, 160-page publication will accompany the exhibition.