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In memoriam – Asim Butt (1978-2010)

But it was Asim’s venture into public art and his subsequent adoption of the Stuckist creed that turned him into a major figure at a relatively young age. Unlike his peers, he broke out of the studio and its sensibilities. His murals at the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine in Karachi were electric, and involved the transitional communities of beggars, prostitutes, and the dregs of society who had been rejected by convention.

A brush with the new – Asim Butt’s Art

What distinguishes Asim Butt from his generation and perhaps the preceding generations of artists is the sheer originality of his vision and an iconoclasm that is neither trumpeted nor made visible until the subtext of his lines is closely studied. This is why Asim has undertaken bold strides during the last 10 enriching years of painting. In the meantime, he also earned a degree or two in social sciences, a half-finished PhD at the University of California and formal training from Karachi’s Indus Valley Art school.

Art education in Pakistan, despite its deep- seated tradition of experimentation, does not allow the full exploration of originality. This is why the revival of miniatures has become another soft tool of marketisation and an out-of-wedlock union between art and commercialism. Rejecting what is on the horizon of Pakistani art, Asim Butt has stuck to his innate traumas and nightmares, sometimes indulging them, at others softening them with figures that blend the sensuous with the spiritual and the political with the existential.

his early works display a cracked sense of the self is not surprising. A rebel from his conventional background, Butt continues to defy the conformist meanings of family, career, security, sexuality and that elusive bourgeois pursuit of happiness. Inspired by the Stuckism movement of art, Asim holds painting as a powerful medium of communication. This standpoint brings our young Pakistani Stuckist at odds with the skin-deep novelty and claimed nihilism of “conceptual” art and postmodernism. The pursuit of art in this worldview thus merges into an impulse for a renewal of spiritual values in art and society, or what is known as “re-modernism.” In Asim’s own words: […]