The Gallerist

Here’s Umer Butt negotiating with a taxi driver to take me from his Lahore gallery to the Indian border. This is typical Umer, always the amazing host, whether of people, art or ideas. In 2007 he set up a virtual gallery and was so overwhelmed by inquiries from people who thought it was a real space, that he quickly set up its offline bricks and mortar equivalent in Lahore; Grey Noise. After four years of championing Pakistani contemporary art from inside the country, he recently moved his HQ to Dubai with collaborations planned with galleries from London, New York, India & Germany. Bad news for my Lahore visits, but very good news for the creative industries.

THIS YEAR’S LESSONS
1: Good shoes buy art!!
2: I need to start taking care of my health.
3: I should speak at least two European languages.
4: Life can be so much healthier and positive if you stay away from Politics of Pakistan.

THE BURNING QUESTION
When will the UAE Government invest in launching a ‘real’ art school, which is more financially accessible to its non-Emirati majority? It hurts when I see teenagers going to school with their glossy Chevy Camaro’s and their American accents, when I personally know some very talented artists who are really struggling with finances.

THE INSPIRATION
I visited Sicily, which was super inspirational… the parallels it has with Pakistani life; the importance of Mama cooked food and never-ending conversations over dinner. And I started listening to Arcade Fire… INSPIRING! INDEED.

MAKING THE WHAT-NEXT DECISION
Firstly, look at my bank account ☺ & then ask why I should invest in a particular project. How ‘cooked’ it is to be represented though my gallery — i.e. how well resolved is the artist in terms of maturity/ intelligence/ awareness? Does it fit the gallery aesthetic (and is engaging)?  Gambling really! At times the most innovative project gets the least attention! The Mysteries/ Miseries of the Contemporary art world!

 

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