Reclaiming culture through art: ‘AAN’s’ Pakistani art collection finds new home


LAHORE: A basement in the business school building of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) has become home to part of one of Pakistan’s most diverse and passionately curated art collections. The 17 masterpieces hung all over the expansive basement of the Suleman Dawood School of Business at the University will now be on display for the next year so that the university’s students can ponder upon and make fine art a part of their lives.

The gallery, which contains works from only Pakistani artists, was unveiled before a select audience and will be available for viewing by LUMS students and alumni from Monday onwards.

The pieces on display, which include the work of such seminal artists as Gulgee and Sadequain, has been loaned to LUMS by the ‘AAN’ foundation. The 17 paintings from the ‘AAN’ collection were collected by husband-wife duo Ali and Amina Naqvi.

The concept of the gallery is one of ‘rental art.’ The displays will not be around permanently but will have the LUMS SDSB building basement as their home for a period of one year.

The event was attended by a select group of a few dozen people which included LUMS Vice Chancellor Dr Sohail H Naqvi, Syed Babar Ali, cricketer Dean Jones and Ali and Amina Naqvi. As with most gathering of the kind, the observational period was sombre and thoughtful and some attendees advised that the lighting needed to better if it were to serve as a gallery. Yet the overall response was largely of satisfaction and excitement.

On the occasion, Ali Naqvi said: “We are delighted to collaborate with LUMS on this project and to share works from the AAN Collection with the public.”

Amina Naqvi also expounded on the importance of art by local artists in helping a society reclaim, learn and expand their culture and history.

“Culture defines who we are and if that is not shared, disseminated and hence preserved, it can get lost. Art and culture always fall prey to rampant homogenization and we felt that there were ideas, philosophies, voices and opinions that needed to be discovered and explored” she said.

Speaking to Pakistan Today, Vice Chancellor Dr Naqvi expanded upon this idea saying that the most important part was that all of the art on display was by Pakistani artists.

“This is our culture. This is all about our identity and the students, which is why we are handing over ownership of this project to the LUMS fine arts society” he said.

Works of artists including Gulgee, Sadiquain, and Jamil Naqsh as well as contemporary artists such as Imran Qureshi, Aisha Khalid, Naiza Khan, Faiza Butt and Muhammad Zeeshan are all in the collection.

The university is also looking for other such donors and is hopeful of filling more walls with such art and making it an integral part of the life of the student body.