Seen Unseen by Waseem Ahmed

Seen Unseen, an exhibition of works by Waseem Ahmad, opened to a large crowd of students and artists at the Ejaz Gallery on Tuesday evening, despite the artist’s objections to the event.

Twenty-eight paintings were on display, most of them from Ahmad’s 2008 show The Labyrinth, also held at the Ejaz Art Gallery. The rest were acquired by gallery owner Muhammad Ramazan from the Chawkandi Art Gallery’s exhibition A Virtuous Perversion in Karachi in 2009.

Noted artists such as Saeed Akhtar, Asad Faruki and Dr Khalid Mehmood attended the opening. Most of the work was gouache on wasli, particularly the pieces from the 2008 exhibition. Some acrylic on canvas from Ahmad’s 2009 collection was also on display. The exhibition will run until October 16.

The exhibition at Ejaz Gallery has attracted controversy after Ahmad pulled out of the show, which was originally to display his new, unseen work. He posted on Facebook and called up colleagues and journalists over the last week to accuse the gallery of dishonesty in its dealings with him.

Copies of a letter representing the gallery’s point of view were handed out to guests as they arrived at the opening. It accused Ahmad of lacking professionalism, saying that Ejaz Gallery had “introduced” his work in 1999 and had helped him display his paintings in Malaysia in 2011 and at the British Parliament in 2012.

“The gallery has always maintained a professional attitude. We celebrate the achievements of our artists and intellectuals. We all need to realise that immature behaviour has no place in the professional world,” it read. The letter has also been posted on the Ejaz Art Gallery Facebook page and website.

Ahmad had earlier said that the dispute with the gallery arose over the cost of printing brochures for the exhibition.

Gallery manager Zahid Saeed said that Ahmad had demanded that the gallery pay the entire cost of the printing. “He had also wanted his work priced higher, starting at Rs300,000 for a 12-inch by 12-inch gouache on wasli. We told him that was too high,” he said.

The works on display at the exhibition are priced between Rs125,000 and Rs375,000.

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