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Asim Butt, Pakistani artist, founded The Karachi Stuckists group in 2005.
In loving memory of Asim Butt, 1978-1210 - Tribute page on Facebook

Asim 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 government.

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Quotes by Asim Butt

"After 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, 10.7.0

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Raza Rumi wrote a very good survey of Asim's work and life 10.7.08 (republished in All Things Pakistan, 16.7.08):

Rejecting 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.

That 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."

In 2009 the Lahore Daily Times (24.4.09) reviewed his show:

Islamabad: 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.

Rejecting 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, sexuality.

The medium of oil on canvas, digital prints, and charcoal and chalk on board, acquire political tones, conversing with the inner apparitions of the artist.

Inspired by 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’.

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Stuckism book

Bully and Bitch by Asim Butt, 2008, oil on canvas, 36 x 72"

Dr 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"

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London Visit, June 2008

On 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.

In July there was an email exchange between them:

Asim: i've been 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.

Charles: 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 art form.

Asim:exactly! 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

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Emails to Hamed Lapsking Dehnavi

The following was posted by Hamed Dehnavi, founder of The Tehran Stuckists, on Facebook on 19.1.10:

I 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
"i speak 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 stuckist painting..."

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 with."

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.

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Asim Butt's last Facebook post

Asim 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.

We 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.

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Art and biography
Wikipedia - summary of his life and art
Saatchi Your Gallery
- images and comprehensive text posted by Asim
Gallery Koel on Picasa - scroll down for five charcoal drawings
BrushSpace - text by Asim and nine paintings
Digital Consciousness - biography and a painting
A Journey of Graffiti through Pakistan - Adrian Fisk photo documentation of Asim (2009)

Boston Globe - Asim quoted on artist, Iqbal Hussain, 23.12.04
Newsline - Salwat Ali reviews the Indus Valley Degree Show including Asim's work, 0.1.07
Dawn - Asim critiques on "Dada Is Dead!", 3.11.07
BBC - description of Asimand video clip, 13.12.07
BBC - Asim answers two questions, 18.12.07
Karachi - two photos of Asim's "stop" stencilling, 31.12.07
Chicago Tribune - Asim's graffiti work mentioned, 13.1.08
ABC (USA) - Asim quoted on parties in Pakistan, 11.2.08
Jahane Rumi - Raza Rumi on Asim's art, including his graffiti work, 10.7.08 (also in All Things Pakistan, 16.7.08)
Art Re-Source - Guy Porter mentions his friendship with Asim, 20.1.09
Dawn - Asim arrested with other opposition activists, 12.3.09
The News on Sunday - Amina Baig article on Asim's graffiti work, c. 07 - 09?
Dawn - Anwer Mooraj mentions Asim's graffiti work, "In the forefront of the crusade". 20.9.09
Daily Times (Pakistan) - brief report on Asim's death, 16.1.09

The 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 Asim, 16.1.09
The News International - death investigation continuing (bottom of text), 17.1.10

Tributes and recollections
In loving memory of Asim Butt, 1978-1210 - Tribute page on Facebook
Facebook page - Asim Butt's own page with many tributes posted
Windmills of My Mind - a picture instead of words
Ochre Queer - "Asim was viciously intelligent, incredibly down-to-earth and a prima donna like you’ve never seen."
Mohsin Siddiqui - a brief text
- "talent and great potential, someone with a strong political conscience and a desire and the ability to act on that conscience"
The 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."
Journey to Democracy - “'It’s all great,' he said with a big smile, gave an 'all’s well' thumbs up."
Limau Orange - "you were unpredictable even in leaving us", brief text + quirky photo
Miami Stuckists - "It is with a heavy heart that we report the loss of one of our colleagues", short tribute

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