Faraz Siddiqui Karachiwala, curator, Spiritual Reflections, speaks on art - GulfToday

Faraz Siddiqui Karachiwala, curator, Spiritual Reflections, speaks on art


A composition by Habiba Mughal.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

A group exhibition titled Spiritual Reflections that is taking place at Conrad Dubai, is showcasing the best efforts of 19 artists from Pakistan, UAE and Saudi Arabia. Opened April 4 and to last till April 24, it is the fruit of a collaboration between award-winning, globally accredited art curator and consultant Faraz Siddiqui Karachiwala and UAE-based Pakistani artist Maria Lari, founder of Social Arts. Karachiwala is the first Pakistani to be accredited by Dubai government as art curator. Spiritual Reflections, since it spans the Ramadan and post-Ramadan periods, is an acknowledgement of the cathartic features of the Holy Month, enclosing themes such as steadfastness and well-being. Karachiwala, who works between Dubai and Karachi, took time off from the inevitable hustle and bustle of inaugural day, to speak to Gulf Today     

How is art connected to spirituality?

Art serves as a means of communication, much like spirituality does with the divine.

A presentation by Saba Nousheen.

How did you prepare for your debut curatorial show in the UAE?

Last year, upon receiving accreditation from the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority as a Curator, I began planning my debut show. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, it could not proceed. Meanwhile, I had known Maria Lari for some time. She approached me for a collaboration with her platform Social Arts website and embraced the idea of holding an exhibition during Ramadan. This collaboration with her has proved pivotal, since without her support, Spiritual Reflections would not have come about.

How is the Emirati art scene different or similar to the Pakistani art scene?

Drawing parallels between the Emirati and Pakistani art scenes is similar to contrasting oranges with apples. The UAE, and Dubai in particular, is a vibrant hub of multiculturalism, a varied mix of artistic variations and cultural diversity. On the other hand, the Pakistani art scene commands a unique stature within South Asia, consistently nurturing illustrious artists who have achieved global recognition. While both are esteemed in their own right, they are distinct and incomparable in terms of their artistic landscapes.

Maria Aamer’s abstract artwork.

How do you plan to contribute to the UAE’s cultural landscape?

I aim to explore various opportunities and support the profound cultural legacy shared by our nations. By curating events, exhibitions, and initiatives that celebrate the rich Emirati culture while also embracing global influences, I hope to create spaces that inspire dialogue, provoke thought, and resound with creativity. This may involve supporting emerging artists, or implementing educational programmes that promote cross-cultural understanding.

What are the values an artist should bring to an exhibition curated by you?

I believe that artists should bring several important values to the table. Foremost among these is the commitment to a thought. Each artwork presented in the exhibition should reflect a deep and deliberate process of creation. Thoughtful observation suggests more than just the physical act of making art; it involves a profound engagement with ideas, emotions, and experiences. Artists should invest time and energy in exploring their concepts, experimenting with different techniques, and refining their expression. This depth of consideration results in artwork that is not only visually appealing but also intellectually stimulating and emotionally deep. By prioritising thoughtful observation, artists elevate their work beyond aesthetic appeal, inviting viewers to engage in a deeper exploration of ideas and emotions. This value enriches the exhibition experience, nurturing a sense of connection and resonance that remains long after visitors have left the space.

A work by Mussarat Yasmin Abid.  

If Pakistani art is not marketed in the Emirates optimally, what should be done to set it right?

Indeed, it is evident that there is a lack of sufficient exposure for Pakistani art within the Emirates — which is regrettable. To address this issue, it is important for the Pakistani government, especially its embassy and consulates, to extend support to artists and exhibitions, particularly those based in Pakistan, who seek to showcase their work in the UAE. This support could take various forms, such as facilitating exchange programmes whereby UAE-based artists exhibit in Pakistan and vice versa, or organising travelling exhibitions. The potential avenues for collaboration are numerous; but they all centre on the crucial element of support, which is currently lacking.

Who are the Pakistani artists who inspire you?

 Numerous Pakistani artists have been a source of inspiration for me. Among them Sadequain, Anwar Jalal Shemza and Ana Molka stand out. In terms of contemporary artists, the works of Jamil Baloch, Aisha Khalid, and Mohammad Ali Talpur, resonate with me profoundly.

Faraz Siddiqui Karachiwala contemplates an artwork.

Can you give us your opinion on the many expat-led art promotion bodies in the UAE?

Expatriate-led art bodies in the UAE have emerged as vibrant hubs of creativity, driving significant cultural exchange and artistic expression within the region. Their remarkable contributions extend beyond promotion; they serve as catalysts for dialogue, understanding, and appreciation for art in diverse communities. They are not only promoting art, but also shaping a more vibrant, interconnected, and culturally enriched society.

Tell us a secret. What were the qualities that won you government accreditation as a curator?

Becoming the first Pakistani to receive accreditation as an Art Curator in the UAE is an achievement that fills me with immense pride. I am deeply grateful to Dubai Culture & Arts Authority and its forward-thinking leadership, for this honour. But receiving accreditation as curator is not just about the honour itself; it’s about being part of a larger mission to enrich lives through art and culture.


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