E-Street: The Hub of Art Galleries In Karachi
Karachi’s vibrant art scene comes to life in Block 4 Clifton, where a new show opens every week. A host of contemporary art galleries in Karachi have sprouted up in this ritzy neighborhood. Dotted with cafes, restaurants, spas, hair salons, (and even the Chinese Consulate), Block 4 of Clifton Karachi looks like most upscale neighborhoods in the city. The locale has creeping bougainvillea and concrete barricades (mostly thanks to the Chinese Consulate) at every turn. For visitors and locals alike, each gallery in Karachi provides a unique perspective on city life through the works of the artists that reside here.
Be sure to check out the galleries on social media channels to learn more about the exhibitions
In a city sans a museum of contemporary art, the closely-clustered E-Street galleries in Karachi give visitors an opportunity to observe a diverse range of Pakistani artists within walking distance. Canvas Gallery, Sanat Initiative, Gandhara Art gallery, and KOEL Gallery are the more experimental galleries in the neighborhood, taking on a hybrid gallery/art-space/projects/residency approach. On the other hand, more established galleries such as Clifton Art Gallery and Art Scene Gallery, with their extensive collections of paintings by local and international artists, cater more to those looking to buy.
The art galleries in Karachi have been in the news lately, the main reason for which is that they house paintings by masters and also serve as schools for the up and coming artists in residence. Read on for some insight regarding the major art galleries in Karachi.
Sanat Art Gallery
Founded in 2014, as part of the Sanat Initiative, Sanat Gallery has fast become a favorite among young artists. Sanat has proven to be a platform of support for emerging artists, embracing innovation and newness. Sanat Initiative also offers a Sanat Residency Program, fostering a learning community of artists. Ammara Jabbar, a young art consumer living in Karachi says
“E-street has become a treat for the connoisseurs of art, but I particularly enjoy Sanat with its bespoke graffiti façade.”
It spills onto the street and makes you long for art that exists beyond curated spaces
According to the website, “Sanat Initiative aims to explore the relationship between art, artists, and society through active partnerships with curators, galleries, art fairs and museums worldwide.” In February 2018, a group show titled “Reflections” realized this aspect of “exploring relationships” by exhibiting dialogical works by prominent artists and photographers. Along with the works on display, the show also published a catalog that included conversations between selected writers and the artists, proving to be a truly interdisciplinary experiment.
By incorporating publications as an integral part of its exhibitions, Sanat Art Gallery is creating knowledge, documenting contemporary art practices, and engaging with critics – heralding art criticism as a key part of the art ecosystem in Pakistan.
Find out more about Sanat Art Gallery by checking out their Facebook page.
Canvas Art Gallery
Canvas Gallery was founded in 1999 by Sameera Raja, an architect from the National College of Arts batch of 1991. The gallery is well regarded in Karachi for curating group shows with works that are in constant conversation with one another. They capture certain common themes or practices and then tie them up with Pakistan’s contemporary art world and contemporary artists are featured heavily. Their website states its aim of presenting cutting-edge work by Pakistani artists. It is considered a premium art gallery and the space is often in the news with its innovative curations.
“In its attempt to move beyond the mere act of selling or showcasing the art pieces, this gallery concentrates on bringing artists from various parts of the country together, and to encourage young and talented artists.”
In January 2018, the gallery exhibited young and upcoming artists in a group show titled “Seeing and Being Seen.” Featured artists included Ahsan Javaid, Arslan Farooqui, Ehsan Memon, and Hamid Ali Hanbhi. In February 2018, Canvas opened the exhibition “Spirits” by Masooma Syed, with delicate handcrafted mixed media creations, that resembled theatre set design models. Although the gallery does not feature international artists, the variety here is a treat to the eyes.
Find out more about Canvas Art Gallery by checking out their Facebook page.
KOEL Art Gallery
“It was really old school and tactile; preparing paper and gum, lighting a diya to make pigment. Cross-legged on the floor, our teacher moved around us barefoot in her kurta. Susan’s solo show was on display in the gallery. We could hop down to look at it and learn from it and gape at it while struggling with our own lines and technique.”
– Zehra Hamdani on the KOEL workshop
From the moment you walk in, through its intricately carved door and under its green canopy, KOEL, offers respite from Karachi’s blistering heat. It provides the perfect setting for creative musing while sipping on some refreshing shikanjabeen(lemonade) from the adjacent Koel Cafe.
KOEL Gallery is located at KOEL, which was first established as a furniture and apparel studio by Noorjehan Bilgrami in 1977. In 2009, an advisory group consisting of renowned architect Habib Fida Ali along with Arshad Faruqi, Amean J, and Ussman Ghauri sat under KOEL’s mythicized Champa tree and dreamt up Koel Gallery, with the mission statement “To bridge the divide between the arts and crafts.” Koel designated a space for exhibitions, both for the visual arts and the crafts, where artists, designers, and craftsmen would share a common platform and come to find a home.
It is now considered one of the most prestigious art galleries in Karachi. Koel Pakistan houses a collection of local artwork and is popular among contemporary artists looking for an art gallery in Pakistan to display their work.
Koel Gallery Timings: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Find out more about Koel Gallery by checking out their Facebook page.
Gandhara Art Space
The Gandhara Art Space is a must visit art centre and exhibition site for its experimental, interdisciplinary shows. Described as a curatorial and art publishing organization engaged in showcasing Pakistani Modern and Contemporary Art, Gandhara Art Gallery in Karachi also runs an exhibition program in Hong Kong.
According to Saira Danish Ahmed, Associate Editor of ArtNow Pakistan
“Gandhara Art Space is tucked in the quieter lanes of Kehkashan Clifton which is fast developing into a cutting-edge hub of contemporary art galleries and upscale cafes.”
Gandhara Art Gallery has a quiet, quaint, and timeless quality to it. Home to the most intriguing arts exhibitions being showcased by contemporary artists of Pakistan, the gallery foundation is also an avid supporter of publications and curatorial ventures extending to spaces outside the gallery itself. In a recent show titled “The Fleet” by Fazal Rizvi, the artist actually took viewers onto the Arabian Sea on a boat for a sound installation. The work was titled “Rooms Afloat” and drew in a large audience.
Find out more about Gandhara Art Gallery by checking out their Facebook page.
Clifton Art Gallery
Clifton Art Gallery opened in 1991 and is well regarded by buyers for its extensive collection of paintings by eminent Pakistani artists including Sadequain, Saeed Akhtar, Bashir Mirza, Asghar Ali, and Colin David.
Mohammad Rizwan Zakai, the director of Clifton Art Gallery remarks that art students in Karachi often visit the gallery to study the works of legendary Pakistani artists and masters of abstract calligraphy paintings. He welcomes these visits, he views this as the commercial gallery fulfilling the role of an art museum in Clifton Karachi.
The gallery’s new E Block location was completed in 2014 and its modernist façade designed by architecture firm Mesotects intrigues the passerby to pay a visit. The gallery hosts an exhibition every month and boasts a collection of over a thousand works. Recent exhibitions include works by Pakistani visual artists such as Talat Dabir, Fauzia Khan, Nahid Raza, Tassaduq Sohail, and Mariam Saeedullah.
Clifton Art Gallery is one of the most visually stunning in the short list of art galleries in Karachi, and due to its extensive collection of rare art pieces, it is rightfully considered a top art gallery in Pakistan by people in the art community.
Art Scene Gallery
Art Scene Gallery was established in 2007 in Karachi. Karachi based artist and CEO of Art TV Pakistan, Faran Qureshi describes Art Scene as a
“Purely commercial gallery with a large collection of works by diverse artists.”
The gallery hosts two shows a month and has a collection of over 2000 fine art works by over a hundred artists. It is an art gallery run like a business and less like a collaborative space or a home of innovation. Their collection includes works by A.R. Nagori, Saeed Akhtar, and Zahoor Ul Akhlaq. The gallery is also committed to supporting young artists and exhibits work by recent graduates from the Karachi School of Arts, Jamshoro University, and the National College of Arts.
Recent exhibitions include works by Salman Farooqi, Chitra Pritam, Seemab Tariq, and Hussain Chandio. For those in search of a fine frame for newly purchased artwork, there is a framing shop located on the second floor of the place. Nevertheless, Artscene is considered one of the art galleries in Karachi worth knowing about.
Studio Seven Gallery
The Studio Seven Art Gallery is housed in Studio Seven, a collaborative studio where local artists, architects, designers, and curators come together under one roof to create unique paintings and installations. The Gallery’s aim is to introduce diverse art practices, as well as to introduce the work of contemporary and experimental young artists and celebrate the work of established fine art artists.
Mr. Iftikhar Chohan, who graduated with a degree in design and arts from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in Karachi in 2003, founded the gallery in 2016.
Recent shows at the place include “Light Object Space” featuring works by S.M. Raza and Nayab Noor, Humaira Hussian’s solo titled “Luminosity”, and a group show titled “It’s All About Satire” with works by Fatima Sabeekha, Fariha Furqan, Jamal Ashiqain, K.B. Abro, and Mariam Mushtaq Kazi. The gallery is one of the best art galleries in Karachi, able to attract business for artists as well as an audience.