|Asim Butt is a subversive South Asian artist who paints, sculpts, and has an interest in graffiti and printmaking. He got his first degree in Social Sciences from the Lahore University of Management Sciences upon his parents’ insistence and says that in retrospect he does not regret it because it gave him analytical skills and exposure to a wide range of literature most art students never have the chance to dissect. He then went on to do his Ph.D. in History at UC Davis in California but abandoned that course of study two years into it to enroll in a B.F.A. in Painting in Karachi. This allowed him to finally pursue the degree he had wanted since he left the Li Po Chun United World College where he had thrown himself into painting at the age of 16.
Since he has been back in his home town, he has participated in group shows in Karachi and Lahore and painted two murals in the environs of the shrine to the eighth-century Sufi saint Abdullah Shah Ghazi. The mazaar is visited by scores of people each day and the footpaths around it home to many of Karachi’s homeless, including beggars, transsexuals and drug addicts. While the first mural titled “5 Ways to Kill a Man” inspired by Edwin Brock’s poem of the same title was about America’s Shock and Awe campaign in Iraq, the second was about the glue-sniffing children Butt encountered while painting “5 Ways”. This gave the artist the opportunity to engage in hundreds of conversations about war and drug use as well as giving him insight into the visual perception of the most disadvantaged groups of society in a country where public art is limited to martial monuments. Both murals have since been whitewashed by city authorities.
Butt is a card-carrying member of the anti-Dadaist Stuckist movement begun in England. He also writes art criticism for various Pakistani publications.
Last year he held an open studio where he showed recent work as well never-before shown work from 11 years ago when he first began painting in oils. Following this, he did three interactive performative pieces one of which sought to claim the museum as a lived space, getting him banned from the Mohatta Palace Museum. He hung up his degree show in November 2006, graduating with a distinction from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture.
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