Monday, April 5, 2010

Khaas Art Gallery and Café ... food for body and soul

ISLAMABAD: Khaas Art Gallery and Café has a vital presence in federal capital’s socio-cultural arena. Lying at the feet of Margalla Hills in Sector F-6, the gallery offers something a little different than just expensive art pieces, discourse and intellectual development. It creates a whole experience that appeals to one’s mind, body and soul.

Since its inception in 2001, the Khaas Art Gallery and Café has been the venue for local and foreigner foodies, who enjoy its inviting ambience, eclectic menu, and enticing brewed coffees, fresh juices and crispy cookies with a cup of tea in lunch.

The gallery-cum-café houses works of local artists and provides a peaceful environment where one can admire local art, relax, enjoy light jazz in the background and rejuvenate with a cozy cup of tea. The decor has been done very tastefully and the subdued warm tones just add to the overall aesthetic experience. As if that wasn’t enough, they have a small bookshelf in a corner where they have stored various books and magazines on Pakistani art, history and culture. Plus, the service is really friendly and they go the extra mile to make sure it’s worth your while. Besides this one could see handicrafts, erotic paintings, antique tableware and symbols of the world religions.

It is indeed a forum for visual artists, poets, writers, designers, architects, and heritage conservation professionals, Zishan Afzal Khan, the curator and director of Khaas Gallery said while talking to Daily Times. “The Café offers light lunch and tea and runs during the gallery timings from morning till evening. It has a gallery displaying contemporary artworks and vernacular crafts. The café offers a conservation workshop space, where a group of dedicated heritage professionals, interns, students and art lovers work in the areas of preservation, conservation and documentation of the rich cultural Heritage of Pakistan,” said Khan adding Khaas gallery is perhaps the only art gallery in the capital that promotes contemporary art and artists and a non-commercial gallery.

Khan, herself an art collector, said 70 percent of amount charged for selling off works displayed in the gallery during a routine exhibition goes to the artist, while 30 percent is reserved for the gallery.

The recently inaugurated ‘Kuch Khaas - The Centre for Arts and Culture’ is an extension of Khaas Art Gallery that is a brainchild of Zishan Afzal Khan’s sister Shayan Afzal Khan.

‘Kuch Khaas’, the Centre for Arts and Culture is a community space for dialogue, public discourse, cultural and intellectual pursuits and civic engagement and is set up inside Khaas gallery as a non -profit social enterprise that seeks to combine the urge for contributing to societal development with the ability to sustain itself through the adoption of efficient and effective business practices,” Sahyan Afzal Khan told Daily Times.

Talking about the mission of Kuch Khaas, Shayan said our mission is to spearhead social change and empowerment through the encouragement of artistic, cultural and intellectual pursuits in Pakistan’s emergent civil society. “Our key goals in the pursuit of this mission are of providing a platform for dialogue, discourse, creative expression, intellectual development and social intervention, developing social awareness and civic involvement in Islamabad’s urban civil society and actively pursuing the development of a vibrant community of conscientious concerned and involved citizens of capital,” khan said.

She said Kuch Khaas’s vision and aim is of a community of citizens who will lead Pakistan towards the fulfillment of our aspirations for our country, our society and our people. “Our aspiration is of a society that is enlightened, progressive, just, and healthy with the aim of a Pakistan free from hunger, poverty, exploitation, discrimination, and environmental degradation and to target citizens who are proud to belong to their country, motivated to work for its advancement, and happy to be of help to each other,” she explained.

Khan said as enthusiasts of art, music, books, poetry, philosophy, thinking, ethical precepts, human rights and democracy, the Kuch Khaas team felt that we needed to do more than just talk about the Pakistan we want. “Kuch Khaas is currently totally privately funded, through personal donations. Over time, once we have proven our value and established our credentials, we will be asking for donations from our community of users. But, for the time being, Kuch Khaas is a self-funded philanthropic venture,” she said.

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