Munawar Ali Syed
Born in 1975 in Hyderabad (Pakistan)
Lives and works in Karachi (Pakistan)
Munawar Ali Syed is a multi-disciplinary artist specialising in three-dimensional mixed media, as well as performance and public art. He studied Fine Art at the National College of Arts, Lahore, obtained an MA in Fine Art from Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, and currently teaches at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in Karachi. An active member of the Vasl Artist Collective, he has participated in multiple residencies and workshops, including: the Burragorang International Artists’ Workshop, Australia; the Vasl International Artists Workshop, Pakistan; the Braziers International Artist Workshop, England; and the Westbury Farm Residency, England. Along with exhibiting in several exhibitions both nationally and internationally, Munawar has had seven solo exhibitions. Recently, Munawar has taken on a new direction in his trajectory, this artistic change of tack fueled by his enthusiasm for public art. Accordingly, he has now curated four exhibitions which very much relied on heavy public participation, and has coordinated two public art projects, one reimagining Karachi’s city walls, and the other the ‘Great Wall of Truck Art’ at Islamabad Airport. His work has a self-reflective, existential flavor to it, addressing the issues one faces in an age of deception; a response to the proliferation of mass media, propaganda, and society’s general self-absorption and duality.
His installation for the Karachi Biennale 2017, Where Lies My Soul, visually emulates his artistic process of self-reflection, and acts as a witness to his artistic journey and art practice, both of which have been shaped by Munawar’s response to living in the urbanity of Karachi. By combining all the available sculptural pieces in his studio with books, drawings, carvings, framed art works, easels, and other pieces of general studio equipment, and wrapping this monolithic structure in a black sheet of plastic, he constructs his own artistic narrative that occupies the space somewhere between form, function and non-function, between the tangible and intangible, creating an ambiguity for the viewer which forces them to imagine what is wrapped inside. As an artist who specialises in three-dimensional mixed-media, Munawar’s Where Lies My Soul is a commentary on the nature of artistic production in relationship to imagery and imagination, art and non-art, among other dualities that are inherent in the artist’s multi-disciplinary concept and process. As Munawar states, “This block of wrapped objects is simultaneously an arrival and departure from my art practice.”