Waseem Ahmed

Contempory Miniature Painter

Art and Polemic in Pakistan, Virginia Whiles

Art and Polemic in Pakistan: Cultural Politics and Tradition in Contemporary Miniature Painting (International Library of Cultural Studies)


Dr Virginia Whiles is an Art Historian, critic and curator. She completed her Doctorate in Social Anthropology at S.O.A.S. (2007), the title of her thesis, Miniature Manoeuvres: Tradition and Subversion in Contemporary Pakistani Art. In 2010, her book, Art and Polemic in Pakistan: Cultural Politics and Tradition in Contemporary Miniature Painting, was published by I.B. Tauris, London. Virginia is an Associate Lecturer at Chelsea College of Art and Design, UAL, and a member of the Adjunct Faculty at Beacon House National University (B.N.U.) and the National College of Arts (NCA) in Lahore, Pakistan. Formerly Professor de Culture Generale at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Rouen France (1980-1999), and 2001-2005, she curated 5 exhibitions of Pakistani miniature painting, in various countries: India, France, Switzerland and Japan (Fukuoka Asian Art Museum). Virginia Whiles is an art critic and contributor to Art Monthly, Art Forum, and Art in America.

Virginia’s book charts the movement of contemporary miniature painting in Lahore, Pakistan (which has been the foundation of Virginia’s research for over 10 years). It is presented through participant-observation of the practice, based on traditional apprenticeship, and inspired to re-invent itself through measures of appropriation and parody towards a critical chronicle of socio-political issues such as fundamentalism, violence against women, nuclear warfare, corruption and militarism. Within the context of post-colonial art education, the issues are those of the provenances of convention and the consequences of innovation, in other words its interaction with the art world is shown as a means of projecting the politics of a localized cultural conflict onto a screen of globalized proportions to investigate the ideological issues at stake: gender conflicts, indigenous and western aesthetics, cultural identity, market and globalization, audiences, performative knowledge. The study looks specifically at the works of 9 artists through a fusion of art historical and anthropological perspectives.




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