Arsalan is a Karachi based studio artist, an alumnus with distinction from Visual Studies, University of Karachi. He has been working as a fine artist and sculptor since a while now and has also taught Fine Arts at Saturday Studio. He has successfully exhibited at Artchowk Gallery, Sanat Initiative, Amin Gulgee Gallery, IVS, The Citizens Archive, PEF Carnival At Beach Luxury Hotel and many others. Exploring new techniques and media are an interest to him with respect to interactive technologies. His most recent work is with Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works, with whom he has made beautiful models of Pakistani ships (including 10 ton Pusher Tug Boat, Puller Tug Ship, Freegate Combat Ship, Fleet Tanker and 32 Ton Pusher) which will be displayed in the Naval Museum Islamabad. I caught up with him only recently to discuss his latest work and ideas.
- What is your latest project about?
This project is second outcome of a commissioned task given by KSEW (Karachi shipyard and engineering works) Pakistan Navy. These scale models represent the products of KSEW constructs in Pakistan, Karachi with the collaboration of China and Turkey. They required in the national and international exhibitions of their products i.e. IDEAS 2014 where they required 3d scale models along with catalogues and specification scripts for foreign military and civil delegations. These models help to develop a sense of the structure, dimensions and visual representation of the ships which are made here.
- As an artist, what sort of emotions run in the back of your mind while working on an intense project like this?
For an artist it’s always a joy to do creative things which are not just happening, but also responding back to you. Particularly in this case (project) it has been a childhood hobby to make things like these. Intensity and brief detailing allow me to find ways to concentrate more and finding solutions to the problems add more into my learning than reading. The things which bring challenges are the things which give you best experiences and learning. I believe creative eye is always way ahead from the mind, and what we usually think. I love this intense meditation because it urges to synchronize physical strength with mental concentration for the job to be done.
- What skills do you think an artist needs to accomplish a project of this sort?
I think an artist needs to find alternate ways to accomplish effective solutions to his aesthetic needs, for which he must observe outside his field. The problem I find with artists is they get labeled with specific genres i.e. sculptor, painter or in my case, digital artist etc. These labels are sometimes adopted by the artist him or herself and sometimes viewership ties it with his or her identity. This alienates you to a specific medium or visual language is very wrong in my opinion, because it limits the creative capabilities and possibilities one could have the potential to achieve. As an art student we learn diverse mediums, techniques and materials through the span of four years but things gets problematic when we only carry what we produced in the final thesis. We forget the rest and cut off from those experiences forever. Further we create a “field bubble” around us and without interlinking or pondering on diverse possibilities outside our field. To accomplish a task like this, artists must be aware of multi-disciplinary skills to achieve maximum outcome.
- Do you think an art enthusiast can make works like these as well?
Yes sure, why not! As I mentioned that it was my childhood hobby, I didn’t learn it completely from anywhere. I saw people, mostly majority of kids who make such things according to their limitations. Some of them are amazing in their skills but mostly they do it only as an art activity in spare time or as only for school projects etc. We need to develop awareness amongst these talented people who do not consider this as a profession. And to do that I believe that I, by myself trying to set an example and encouragement that there is a proper scope and high market demand for this kind of work.
. • Would you recommend it for students, as their science or art projects?
I guess it depends, art and science project do contribute to distinguish the talented students in this specific area. I don’t believe in imposing this as compulsory because it is not everybody’s cup of tea. Everyone has different sets of skills and brain. We can work it out with only those who have keen interests in these things. This will polish their capabilities as much as possible in the best way without any uniform set of formula or structure. It is by chance you can only make a great artist, and can’t force or feed otherwise.
- So what’s next for you?
Right now I got a break till December, to concentrate on my graduate studies and academic researches, after that I will resume the same work in the span of December to January 2016 for the next project which might be three times larger ships in size than what I made now for IDEAS 2015 Expo. Between that I don’t know what else comes up!
All the best to you Arsalan with your future work!