Canvas Gallery is situated in Clifton, an area close by the sea, a truly popular residential, commercial and recreational place and a most expensive zone. Needless to say that this makes Clifton to one of Karachi’s most attractive and busy areas as well. One will find proof when visiting its malls, schools, colleges, bungalows, parks, restaurants and certainly all the main galleries of the city.
In her 15 years of practice as a gallery owner Sameera Raja has a great share on the visability of contemporary art of Pakistan. She manages to hold the balance between being a businesswoman and promoting contemporary Pakistani art. Her contributions to the visual development of Pakistani art cannot be valued high enough. Pakistan’s most prominent artists such as Imran Qureshi, Waqas Khan or Aisha Khalid have started to gain international attention through and with the support of Canvas Gallery.
Sameera has a straight job description when it comes to the balance between art and artists who operate on an international level and those who need support on that. Very eager to transform the perception of art in a country which hardly has a tradition with contemporary art, her engagement goes along with strategies that have reasonable potentials to raise people’s awareness in order to understand the purpose of art as a record of the time it takes place. As Pakistanian art is intuitiv with a particular vocabulary, is autonomous at bottom, independent of trends and the West, Sameera herself works independently in that way too.
Canvas not only shows art from Karachi but also art from all the different parts of the country with it’s multiple ethnics. And Sameera Raja is aware of the vested interests that arise when working on a very high level of art mediation. Whilst the emerging art market has to undergo international pressure, she regards her independency as an advantage and THE big advantage Pakistan has.
The gallery has an multicultural audience, the response artists get comes from the society of Karachi. An important feedback, since works have started to change from the 90ies on, together with the change of sensibility of artists and the way people who are looking at art has changed too.
The forward looking owner gave us an outlook on what will be the next focus point in promoting and mediating art in a city that is and will be always in a flux: A just recently installed programm that will bring sculpture back to art in Pakistan.