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Pakistan’s Modern Art Buying Frenzy Continues
Pakistani modern art market is soaring, thanks to recent boom in economic activity, rising incomes, investor interest and a line-up of upcoming artists – plus increasing corporate and Arab patronage. Pakistan’s art market has gone crazy over the past year, with prices multiplying 10 to 20 times over. And famous artists are not the only beneficiaries. Like most art exhibitions around the country these days, nearly all the paintings carry red tags – meaning they are sold. One reason is that the traditional art collector has been replaced by speculators from the corporate sector. An equal interest in South Asian art by Indian and Pakistani expatriate communities in the West created incentives for major Western auction houses to start offering South Asian art at their sales. Some of these auction houses, like Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Bonhams, have extended their operations to Dubai in the last few years. “Many investors in the stock market and real estate sectors have realized that investment in art is comparatively more reliable and secure,” says Zohra Hussain, the owner of Karachi’s oldest gallery, Chawkandi Art. In the nearby Unicorn gallery, a fresh art school graduate declines an attempt by a collector to reduce the price of her oil-on-canvas portrait of a woman from $580 to $450.