A Journey of Art from Bastille to Karachi Jail

The marvel of creativity knows no boundaries, be it jail or someplace else, dreams are everywhere. Each night, these prisoners dream and exercise their talent. On the 8th of July 2017 being the fourth series of exhibition was held Alliance Française de Karachi displaying the paintings from several prisoners across Sind. Each painting depicted a story of the pain and hopes with an outburst of creativity in every painting. Some were sold immediately whilst others stood silently in the gallery waiting to be bought and set in the private collections of the elite. Prisons were initially built to clean up the society for the elite but over the years they became reformatories where those who had committed crimes would be given a chance to change their lives and pay their debt to the society.

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This tradition started back in 2008 when Consul General of France M. Pierre Seillan held a two day expo at the AFK in which one hundred chef d’oeuvre were sold and the proceed obtained were handed over to the imprisoned artists, the second exposition was held in 2013 with the support of Consul General M. Christien Ramage whilst the third exposition was held in 2014 with support from M. Jean-Francois Chenin.

One of the most mesmerising paintings featured above was painted in mere 22 days by the nephew of a very celebrated artist, a prisoner serving life time imprisonment for kidnapping against ransom. Present at the occasion were art connoisseurs and several dignitaries as the likes of the Consul General of France, Monsieur François Dall’Orso, IG Prison Mr. Nusrat Hussain Mangan, director Alliance Française de Karachi M. Jean-François Chénin, Consul General of Turkey Mr. Murat Mustafa Onart and several others.

A few things I raised my voice against were the extremely low prices of the paintings which were way below the market and the criminally negligent absence of philanthropists who, otherwise, contribute heavily to unworthy causes. I had raised the objection with the I.G prisons and the management of the Alliance Française de Karachi. In my opinion, such exhibitions, the proceeds of which go to the prisoners, should be held as an auction where the bidding should start with the minimum price of Rs 10’000 rather than the current prices which were much below the minimum standards.

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