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Pakistan gallery defies dictators

Published on Dec 25, 2012 12:02 PM
 
Pakistani artist Qadir Jhatial poses with his paintings during an exhibition at the Rohtas Art Gallery in Islamabad on Dec 12, 2012. It may not seem the most obvious setting, but a squat building overlooking a slum is home to one of Pakistan's leading galleries, which for 30 years has defied dictatorships and fundamentalists to champion cutting-edge art. -- PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - It may not seem the most obvious setting, but a squat building overlooking a slum is home to one of Pakistan's leading galleries, which for 30 years has defied dictatorships and fundamentalists to champion cutting-edge art.

Rohtas Gallery was founded in 1981, at the height of military ruler General Zia-ul-Haq's martial law, as Pakistan was undergoing a programme of Islamisation that imposed Draconian restrictions on culture and entertainment.

With all but the most insipid forms of visual art officially banned as "un-Islamic", architect Naeem Pasha and a group of friends decided Pakistan's artists needed a space to express themselves freely.

"Abstract art was unIslamic," said Mr Pasha.

 
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