By Ali Usman
LAHORE: Australian artist Damon Kowarsky – who first came to Lahore as an artist-in-residence at the Beaconhouse National University (BNU) in 2007 – has returned to the country with an exhibit of his latest collection of paintings and prints, ‘Pardesi’, which will open at the Alhamra Art Gallery on Monday. Kowarsky, who lived in the provincial metropolis for a year on his first trip, calls Lahore ‘his favourite city in the world’. Now he is back in town to share his renditions of the different historical sites and cityscapes of Pakistan.
Cityscapes: The exhibition – expected to be inaugurated by the Australian high commissioner – features 21 etchings and seven paintings based on local historical sites including the Rohtas Fort, Aminabad, Neela Gumbad and various other cityscapes. After displaying his latest work, Kowarsky intends to go to Karachi for a teaching assignment at the Indus Valley School (IVS) of Art and Architecture for a month. “I will have an opportunity to explore Karachi this time around, and from what I have heard, it is a different city altogether,” he said. Kowarsky taught 2nd year students at the BNU Fine Arts Department in 2007, and studied miniature at the same time. In his current work, he has employed miniature techniques learned during his first trip to Lahore.
Kowarsky had also held an exhibition at the Alhamra Art Gallery in November 2007. Talking to Daily Times, the Australian said that Pakistani artists were as talented as those abroad if not more, and were keenly aware of modern art trends. Kowarsky said he had been initially drawn to Pakistan to learn the art of miniature painting, as the country’s “miniature masters” were only second to those in Iran. Fallen in love: Kowarsky, who has travelled across the globe, seems to have “fallen in love” with the city of Lahore. According to BNU School of Visual Arts Dean Salima Hashmi, “The city of Lahore has traditionally enticed travellers from all over the world to become part of the city life for as long as they possibly can. Some never go back home and others return again and again. It is a pleasure to welcome Damon Kowarsky back to Lahore and to BNU, where he was an artist in residency in 2007”. Kowarsky said when he returned to Australia, the images of orange sellers, the picturesque chaos of the Hall Road and other places flashed in his mind whenever somebody mentioned the great city.
Kowarsky studied printmaking at the Victorian College of Arts and the Glasgow School of Art. He has displayed his work internationally in Mexico, Egypt, New Zealand, and Finland. In 2002, he received the Ian Potter Cultural Trust Grant to assist as an archaeological illustrator in Egypt. In 2005, he travelled through Yemen, Djibouti and Ethiopia. He undertook residencies at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and was involved in printing at the Australian Print Workshop in Fitzroy, a suburb in Melbourne.