Ila Dalmia Memorial Lecture 2017

Organised by FICA, in collaboration with IIC,
Supported by Yashodhara Dalmia

Naya Lahore
Contemporary Art Practices in Lahore

By Prof. Salima Hashmi

The Ila Dalmia Memorial Lecture was held on November 2, 2017, 6 pm in Seminar Rooms 2 & 3 (Kamaladevi Complex), at India International Centre, New Delhi.

In Milton's Paradise Lost, when God creates Adam and tells him what riches he is heir to, he says, "and you will see the Lahore of the Moghuls". Presumably, the blind poet was acquainted with the magic of Lahore. But not only poets, artists and musicians have, for centuries, been dedicated to Lahore, often having to pay dearly for this passion.
Naya Lahore looked at more recent times and examined contemporary art practices which have blossomed in the city in the last three decades. Owing a great deal to the political, social and art educational circumstances which have instigated and nurtured artists, Lahore has been a significant player in the contemporary art scene at many levels. Defying the odds and socio-political difficult terrain, strong contemporary art practices have emerged to define the city.

Prof. Salima Hashmi spoke about the myriad art practitioners who have risen to prominence in the contemporary art scene in Lahore and spoke about select works at length. Amongst the works discussed were the installation ‘Arabian Delights’ by Huma Mujli and photographs by Miriam Ibraaz where black humour is made use of as a commentary on the constitutive conditions of the art scene in the city where, despite conflict, friendships have blossomed in the art community out of a shared passion for art.

Image courtesy:  Mariam Ibraaz, I knew you would come, 20 x 40 Inches, digital print on paper, 2009

The stimulating lecture is available for public viewing right here:

About the speaker: Salima Hashmi is an artist, curator and contemporary art historian. Professor Hashmi was the founding Dean of the Mariam Dawood School of Visual Art and Design at Beaconhouse National University, Lahore. She was Professor of Fine Art at National College of Arts [NCA] Lahore and was also Principal of the College. The Australian Council of Art and Design Schools (ACUADS) nominated her as Inaugural International Fellow, for distinguished service to art and design education in 2011. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Bath Spa University in 2016. She is Council member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Ila Dalmia (1944-2003) was a passionate writer of Hindi and English prose and poetry and her interest extended to art, music and theatre. Her home in Delhi, which she shared with her partner S.H. Vatsyayan, the legendary Hindi writer, popularly known as 'Ajneya', was to become a hub for literary and artistic activities. In addition, the critical magazine for arts and literature, Naya Pratik, was started by her and Vatsyayan and was regarded highly for its new and experimental writing. Apart from several essays and articles, she had written a biographical novel Chat par Aparna. A volume of her collected works titled Ila was published shortly after her demise. She was also a generous patron of the arts and supported many young artists and writers. Ila died prematurely due to a critical illness but will be remembered by her friends and supporters as one of the most compassionate and inspirational cultural personalities of her time. 

Supported by:

Yashodhara Dalmia has written widely on art and her book Amrita Sher-Gil – A Life (Penguin/Viking, 2006) is a comprehensive account of the life and work of one of India’s first modern artists. She is the author of seminal books like The Making of Modern Indian Art: The Progressives (2001), of Memory, Metaphor, Mutations: Contemporary Art of India and Pakistan with Salima Hashmi (2007) and Journeys: Four Generations of Indian Artists (2011).