Faiza Butt: PARACOSM at Attenborough Arts Centre

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Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester, in partnership with New Art Exchange, Nottingham, is presenting one stop in a tour of the work of Faiza Butt.  Faiza, originally from Pakistan and now a resident of England with her husband and two children, is a political artist with a difference.  Her work, both bold and striking, yet subtle and delicate, embodies the essence of the world we live in today, with a strong focus on our human draw towards the most wicked of lifes moments, through to love, peace and religion.

Ghost ©Faiza Butt
Ghost ©Faiza Butt

Artists have a purpose in society. You do not make art to make anyone comfortable or to amuse people. Art is a language, a code through which you hope to make a difference. Faiza Butt

Born in 1973, Faiza trained at the NCA in Lahore and the Slade School of Art in London where she earned a master’s degree in painting with distinction. She received a BA from the National College of Arts in 1993, with honours, and was awarded the Berger Gold Medal for outstanding student of the year.

Abdullah ©Faiza Butt
Abdullah ©Faiza Butt

In 1995, Faiza was awarded a UNESCO-Aschberg Bursary, and was artist in residence for three months at the Bartle Arts Trust (BAT) in Durban, South Africa. Her work has been exhibited at various art fairs, such as Art Dubai and Art Basel Hong Kong, and extensively in Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and the United States. Her work can also be found in private and public collections around the world.

From the moment of stepping through the door of the first room of artwork at the Attenborough Arts Centre, where it takes up all three of their galleries, I was swept away by the very power of the images.  From huge, light filled canvas, filled with poetry and vistas of Hubble space used as a backdrop, through to another room filled with delicate, and yet emotional portraits of refugee children and women protesters.

All the work, from the jewel encroached ‘Masters of the Universe’ and ‘Star Wars’, to the torture items in a soft pastel embrace, spoke to my core and I sat for many moments in front of many of Faiza’s works, touched and slightly scarred.

My Love Plays In Heavenly Ways ©Faiza Butt
My Love Plays In Heavenly Ways ©Faiza Butt

Surprisingly perhaps, for such a political artist, her art shows much of the innocence of the moment and she uses her  own children in many of her pieces.  She told us proudly that they have been brought up in a more open world, (east London), than she herself was, and their minds are open, showing her that love and kindness is not a taught emotional response but a natural side of our essence, rather than the hate and power struggles that show later in life. The Chinese dragons being slayed by her children, her son in one and her daughter in the other, is just one example of the mix of dreamworld versus reality.  When I viewed these pieces I saw tradition being swept away by a newer generation.  Soeone I spoke to saw something different.  Faiza says she loves to meet people and talk about what they see in her work before they are told what was in mind at its creation.  It is not always what she envisaged.

I left the exhibition with a mind filled with images that are still with me as I write this.  A powerful message runs through the exhibit and I think……. I hope, I heard some of it.

Attenborough Arts Centre
University Of Leicester Lancaster Road, Leicester, LE1 7HA view map
Telephone 01162 522455

The Attenborough Art Centre Gallery is under a year old and considers itself very lucky to be hosting such a wonderful display so early in its lifetime.  It is situated at the university of Leicester and if you are going to be travelling a distance, I suggest the Premier Inn in Leicester town centre as a good base.

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