Arts and Culture
Migration, contact, travel and displacement have been essential for the emergence of multiple modernisms, composite identities and hybrid aesthetics. Among the many cross-cultural connections that have been established against the backdrop of 20th century decolonization movements, this paper will investigate and reflect on some of the more or less neglected artistic ventures in order to situate them in the context of both regional and transnational art historical writing. This paper sets out to highlight modes of artistic and intellectual exchange between Czechoslovakia and South Asia focusing on the Pakistani artist Shakir Ali (1916-75). Ali received his formative art training in undivided India, in Delhi and in Bombay. In 1947 he continued to study art at the Slade School of Art in London, in 1948 he attended André Lhote’s (1885-1962) Field Academy in the South of France and in 1949 he moved on to live and study in Prague. In 1951 Shakir Ali returned to South Asia to live in Pakistan. In Lahore, Shakir Ali was the only member of the Lahore Art Circle (formed in 1952) that had early international exposure. He contributed to the group a transcultural complexity and experience with forms, thoughts and institutions. Acknowledging the divergence of historical developments this paper will take a close look at the factors that may have enabled certain developmental paths in any concrete historical location, thereby reflecting on cross-cultural connections of artistic ventures that will help to situate them in both regional and transnational art historical writing.