Butt, Pakistani artist, founded The Karachi Stuckists group in 2005.
loving memory of Asim Butt, 1978-1210 - Tribute page on Facebook
Butt was born in Karachi, Pakistan on 26 March 1978. He abandoned his
Ph.D in History at the University of California to study art in Karachi
and subsequently to devote himself to his own work, which included figurativepaintings,
as well as graffiti work around the city, most notably a symbolic "Eject"
symbol (image here)
appearing in many city venues towards the end of General Musharraf's
by Asim Butt
the century-long assault on Beauty, an ideal obliterated by historical
cataclysms such as the two World Wars and art movements reacting to
them, I feel that it is perhaps time to re-imagine an Arcadia – fraught
with Postmodern indeterminacy as it may be. In painting towards a
new Beauty, it is not a neo-Romantic impulse of retreating into an
idyll that I nurture. For art made today cannot be embarrassed of
engaging the complexity of the historical moment of a globalizing
multicultural society. Instead it is a tension between representing
a shifting reality and an ideal beauty, or seen another way, between
the social and emotional truths I experience and the tricks of illusion
used to convey them that I seek to keep alive."
- from LimauOrange,
Rumi wrote a
very good survey of Asim's work and life
10.7.08 (republished in All
Things Pakistan, 16.7.08):
what is on the horizon of Pakistani art, Asim Butt has stuck to
his innate traumas and nightmares, sometimes indulging them, at
others softening them with figures that blend the sensuous with
the spiritual and the political with the existential.
his early works display a cracked sense of the self is not surprising.
A rebel from his conventional background, Butt continues to defy
the conformist meanings of family, career, security, sexuality and
that elusive bourgeois pursuit of happiness. Inspired by the Stuckism
movement of art, Asim holds painting as a powerful medium of communication.
This standpoint brings our young Pakistani Stuckist at odds with
the skin-deep novelty and claimed nihilism of “conceptual” art and
postmodernism. The pursuit of art in this worldview thus merges
into an impulse for a renewal of spiritual values in art and society,
or what is known as "re-modernism."
2009 the Lahore
Daily Times (24.4.09) reviewed his show:
Khaas Art Gallery (KAG) on Tuesday opened its door foran exquisite
display of contemporary paintings titled ‘Eyeing The Odds’ by
renowned Karachi-based artist Asim Butt.
what is on the horizon of Pakistani art, Butt has stuck to his
innate traumas and nightmares, using the medium of oil on canvas.
Butt is a
rebellious artist who paints, sculpts, and has an interest in
graffiti and printmaking. Through his 16 large size canvases,
he continues to defy conformist meanings of family, career, security,
of oil on canvas, digital prints, and charcoal and chalk on board,
acquire political tones, conversing with the inner apparitions
of the artist.
the Stuckism movement of art, Butt holds painting as a powerful
medium of communication. The pursuit of art in this worldview thus
merges into an impulse for a renewal of spiritual values in art
and society, or what is known as ‘re-modernism’.
Bully and Bitch by Asim Butt, 2008, oil on canvas, 36 x 72"
Robert Janás, a Czech art critic and historian, included three of Asim's
paintings in his book, Stuckism International: The Stuckist Decade
1999-2009, to be published by Victoria Press in February 2009 (ISBN
0-907165-28-1). The paintings are Bully and Bitch, Hellbird,
and Skin. On page 64, Dr Janás wrote:
The main personality
of Pakistani Stuckism is Asim Butt (Karachi Stuckists). His full-blooded
painting is based on dense, earthly colours and monumental figures.
In a natural way, he joins traditional Indian and Persian motifs
with contemporary Pakistani reality and creates potent symbols to
convey his message.
Hellbird by Asim Butt,
2004, oil on canvas, 24 x 18"
Skin by Asim Butt,
2006, oil on canvas, 72 x 48"
Visit, June 2008
30 June 2008, Asim Butt attended a talk about Stuckist art and Turner
Prize protests given by Charles Thomson, Stuckist co-founder, at Waltham
Forest Arts Club in London, where he also met other UK Stuckists.
Asim and Charles are seen here after the talk travelling back in the
tube to Central London.
July there was an email exchange between them:
thinking about your talk. my own practise militates against the conceptual
on canvas. show them rather than tell them by speaking to aesthetic
questions and universal themes... or even attack conceptual art directly
by referring to the urinal or the bed as a symbol. but i guess if
you didn't have the protests and issue statements then we could paint
all we wanted and it wouldn't have a context. anyways. just a thought.
I see two different areas. One is the painting which carries on regardless
and is the long term activity. The other is a bit of fuss in the press
and with demos etc which gains attention for Stuckism and hence the
artists's work, but is not the real content of the movement. It's
just dealing with the times we live in. Most artists in Stuckism don't
even have anything to do with that side of things, but a few of us
find it an interesting additional activity. It has been valuable in
communicating and this means that a lot of artists have found out
about Stuckism and connected with it. It also means that the public
are aware there is a voice that believes in painting as a viable contemporary
i agree 100 per cent. thanks for posting the pakistaniat link on the
website. really appreciate what you're doing. hope to see you soon
again. if you're looking for a holiday ... my door's open! x
to Hamed Lapsking Dehnavi
following was posted by Hamed Dehnavi, founder of The
Tehran Stuckists, on Facebook on 19.1.10:
release this selection of Asim's messages sent to me just a few days
before his suicide to show that he was not depressed, but full of
positive energies and ideas for his feature. He was scheduling his
up coming shows and he was just about to develop the Karachi Stuckists
group with new members and also he wanted to travel to Iran on April
to join the Tehran and Karachi Stuckists show. He had a lot of plans
and he was so eager about painting. The loss of such an active and
talented fellow is a great sorrow. (I've deleted some of his messages
and all of my own to shorten the note.)
28 November 2009
very little but would like to learn more. as neighbour stuckists we
should try and meet up... want to come to pakistan?"
28 November 2009
"cooool! i definitely want to come to teheran but i also have a show
coming up in the spring so i have to stick around... maybe i can just
send you a small canvas to hang with my iranian comrades? the offer
is entirely mutual: you can come here and stay with me. i'll try and
organise a trip after my march show.... i had art at school but because
of parental pressure i ended up studying social sciences and then
went and started a ph.d. in history in the US (which is where i started
learning farsi). all this time i kept drawing and painting and had
a collaborative show with some artists in san francisco so i quit
my ph.d. and came back to karachi and got another BA in painting...
pakistan being an islamic republic doesn't really interfere with what
you make and whether you can show it because the cleresy is not in
control here. the only thing that i feel is that because people are
a little socially conservative, they don't buy nudes even if they
really love looking at them. but there are enough expatriates and
diplomats here for that problem to be redundant. the idea of stuckism
doesn't really have a formal movement behind it in karachi. it's basically
just me who is flying the banner although a lot of people are doing
29 November 2009
" i'd love to travel with the work ideally and come meet all of you
too. how exciting!"
8 December 2009
"hey, let me know about the dates of your show. i need to finalise
my schedule for the upcoming year with the other galleries i am dealing
26 December 2009
"new developments: i've been talking to some painters here who i think
are stuckist and some have responded. the teheran show will be the
first opportunity for us to come together. so rather than bring lots
of my own work and promoting only my own person and practice, i'll
bring one piece each by all these painters. what do you think?"
That was the
last message I got. I've lost the opportunity to see him in person,
but at least I know that he was full of life. Rest in peace Asim.
Butt's last Facebook post
posted on Facebook on the night of 13 January 2010 (Facebook date stamp)
to US artist David
Smith Harrison, "hey david, been thinking of you with the air
a little crisper in karachi, it's just like the bay though of course
i don't have a view of two bridges from my bedroom! how are you?"
and then, "your prints are greatly admired here in pakistan and
my end of the barter is not forgotten." His last post appears to
be on his his
own wall to
add a video of a Lipton
Tea ad and at 9.50 pm a comment on it, "the boons of British
sea power". He had been messaging friends on Facebook over the
next two days up to a few hours before his death.
received email confirmation from his nephew and his uncle that Asim
was found dead in his room on 15 January 2010. Various web sources and
the Daily Times (Pakistan) give the cause as suicide by hanging, but
there is as yet no offical confirmation.
- summary of his life and art
Saatchi Your Gallery - images and comprehensive text posted by Asim
Koel on Picasa - scroll down for five charcoal drawings
- text by Asim and nine paintings
Consciousness - biography and a painting
Journey of Graffiti through Pakistan - Adrian Fisk photo documentation
of Asim (2009)
Globe - Asim quoted on artist, Iqbal Hussain, 23.12.04
- Salwat Ali reviews the Indus Valley Degree Show including Asim's work,
- Asim critiques on "Dada Is Dead!", 3.11.07
- description of Asimand video clip, 13.12.07
- Asim answers two questions, 18.12.07
- two photos of Asim's "stop" stencilling, 31.12.07
Tribune - Asim's graffiti work mentioned, 13.1.08
(USA) - Asim quoted on parties in Pakistan, 11.2.08
- Raza Rumi on Asim's art, including his graffiti work, 10.7.08 (also
Things Pakistan, 16.7.08)
Re-Source - Guy Porter mentions his friendship with Asim, 20.1.09
- Asim arrested with other opposition activists, 12.3.09
News on Sunday - Amina Baig article on Asim's graffiti work, c.
07 - 09?
- Anwer Mooraj mentions Asim's graffiti work, "In the forefront
of the crusade". 20.9.09
Times (Pakistan) - brief report on Asim's death, 16.1.09
News International - (scroll to 3rd item) obituary, mentioning his
stencilling and his first solo show, 16.1.09
Al Jazeera - journalist Imran Khan describes his first meeting with
News International - death investigation continuing (bottom of text),
loving memory of Asim Butt, 1978-1210 - Tribute page on Facebook
page - Asim Butt's own page with many tributes posted
of My Mind - a picture instead of words
- "Asim was viciously intelligent, incredibly down-to-earth and
a prima donna like you’ve never seen."
Siddiqui - a brief text
and great potential, someone with a strong political conscience and
a desire and the ability to act on that conscience"
Gypsy World - "in the middle of this speech by some guy, I
heard screams of 'Liar, Hypocrites' ... I turned around to see a guy
dressed in black, this was my introduction to Asim Butt."
to Democracy - “'It’s all great,' he said with a big smile, gave
an 'all’s well' thumbs up."
- "you were unpredictable even in leaving us", brief text
+ quirky photo
Stuckists - "It is with a heavy heart that we report the loss
of one of our colleagues", short tribute