On June 7, 2016, Pakistani artist Ghulam Mohammad won the £25,000 Jameel Prize 4. His five works of paper collage, four Untitled and one with the title Gunjaan (2014) clinched him the prize, which was announced at the Pera Museum in Istanbul, Turkey (here).
Fady Jameel, President of Community Jameel International, said: “We would like to congratulate Ghulam Mohammad, the first artist from Pakistan to win the Jameel Prize. Using second-hand books, Mohammad’s intricate collages of paper cuttings of Urdu script pasted on Wasli paper create new meanings and celebrate the great heritage of Islamic art, craft and design. The vision of the Jameel Prize is to promote artists who explore traditional Islamic influences through contemporary art.”
Two other better known Pakistani artists, David Chalmers Alesworth and Rasheed Araeen who entered the completion – lost to Ghulam Mohammad.
Ghulam Muhammad creates delicate collages of hundreds of individually cut out Urdu alphabet letters that he pastes upon hand crafted wasli paper. The collages resemble dense miniature carpets created by beautiful calligraphic script. It is a difficult, time consuming procedure but the process is what Ghulam Muhammad loves. The resulting works are a mirage of letters, designed to draw in viewers and push them to peer in closely – perhaps to recreate stories and words from the multitude of letters. Watch an interview with Ghulam Muhammad below.
He speaks five languages including Saraiki, Balochi and Urdu, and is fascinated by this basic medium of communication. He finds that language simultaneously has the power to unite and divide people. The motivations behind his art are also reminiscent of his own difficult experiences of becoming acquainted with Urdu after growing up in Balochistan. He found that although the basic letters were the same, their combinations, pronunciations and meanings were not, widening the cultural gap between him and the rigid society within which he was trying to immerse himself.
Ghulam Muhammad’s work has been shown at Satrang Gallery, Islamabad (2014), Canvas Gallery, Karachi (2014, 2015), Rohtas Gallery, Lahore (2016), and Victoria and Albert’s Jameel Prize exhibition, Istanbul (2016).
Established in 2009, the Jameel Prize is awarded every two years by a panel of judges headed by renowned British architect, Iraqi-born Zaha Muhammad Hadid (died 2016). The prize, which is worth £25,000, honours contemporary artists and designers inspired by Islamic traditions. Past nominees from Pakistan include Aisha Khalid, Waqas Khan, Noor Ali Chagani, Hamra Abbas and Seher Shah.