Across the border, in Pakistan, Bollywood stars enjoy demigod-like popularity. That’s what inspired Rashid Rana, one of the most important contemporary Pakistani artists, in 2004, to create a series of collages called Ommatidia (the optical units that make up an insect’s compound eye). It comprises three collages of Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan, each made up of thousands of tiny photographs of their fans in Pakistan.
Now, at an online auction next week, Saffronart will be selling the collage along with works by other renowned Pakistani artists. There will be works by the older artists like Sadequain, Ahmed Parvez, Jamil Naqsh and Anwar Jalal Shemza, as well as contemporary artists like Imran Qureshi, Mohammad Ali Talpur, Naiza Khan, Ayaz Jokhio, Shazia Sikander and Nusra Latif Querishi. The auction is expected to gross around Rs 1.86 crore to Rs 2.45 crore.
The price of Rashid Rana’s Salman collage is estimated at Rs 7,50,000 to Rs 10,00,000. Rana’s motivation was to express the shared aspirations of the fans that upholds the film industry. “The piece exemplifies the fact that every superstar is made one only because of his fans. It also says a lot about how Bollywood connects the two nations,” says Nish Bhutani, CEO, Saffronart.
Commenting on nature of artists and art collectors in both countries, Abha Housego, UK and Europe head for Saffronart says, “Indians and Pakistanis have uncannily similar tastes. A lot of artists across the border are very interested in the art scene here. They are familiar with the works of top Indian artists, MF Hussain especially.”
Asked why we get to see Pakistani art here so rarely, Bhutani says, “Although artists there have produced some beautiful works, most of them haven’t been achieved the right exposure. Now that a lot of collectors are showing interest, the time seems right.”