From Turner and Matisse to Van Gogh and Picasso – traditionally the history of art has been dictated by a patriarchal western narrative, and with just 14% of living artists represented by galleries in Europe and North America being women, this trend is still very much prominent.
The issues with this is that the visual – what we see – matters!
Internationally renowned Pakistani-born artist Faiza Butt, has been banging the dhol, djun-djun and drum about the importance of raising the profile of contemporary non-western practice in the art world.
Art has the power to challenge, educate and trigger social reflection. It provides us with the ability to view the world from a new-ground breaking perspective and can act as a medium to champion diversity and equality in society through promoting a greater tolerance of beliefs and representatives around the world.
By denying female, and non-western artists a platform to express themselves through their artistic talent, we are subconsciously impacting on our society more generally, restricting our cultural gaze and understanding.
Art is a medium to expose inequalities in society, and in turn spark broader conversations concerning race, gender and ethnicity, in order to break the cycle of inequality and widen cultural perceptions.
“The impetus of wanting to make work is to make purposeful work, work which has a social purpose. Artists are social commentators who log and record what is happening around them. It is a very noble responsibility, for knowledge is projected to us through multiple prisms,” Fazia told ArtNowPakistan.
“My goal is to take something very gritty and then take it to a place of light, and start a conversation so people don’t shrink off, shy away or mask themselves.
“Culture is an open system, it is not set in stone, it develops and is absorbed from one another. It grows as we speak.
“My work is not sensational just for the sake of being sensational. It is not political because I am angry. It is about absorbing what is happening around me and coding what is important.”
And it’s that reflection of the world around us in a cultural setting that’s why the focus of art needs to shift. The world is poorer through a representation of art that is narrow.
Faiza uses her art work to address the cultural gap that has become prominent across society, and in particular, the art world. She has exhibited extensively in Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and the USA and is currently displayed in the British Museum and the Kiran Nadar Museum I Delhi.
Faiza was recently invited to speak at The Stellar International Art Foundation’s event on Art, Sensuality and Feminism for International Women’s Day. This was to help raise the profile of female and non-western artists