Spotlight

Feature Collage artist Liaqat Rasul

Championed by Catherine Ince
The Wick - Feature Collage artist Liaqat Rasul
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The Wick - Liaqat Rasul by Nikita Korchunov
Above  Liaqat Rasul by Nikita Korchunov
Interview
Liaqat Rasul
Photography
Nikita Korchunov
06 October 2021
Interview
Liaqat Rasul
Photography
Nikita Korchunov
06 October 2021
Facebook and Instagram’s recent outage was a humbling reminder of how much we rely on social media to stay connected. During the pandemic, with galleries closed, curators and artists were forced online to keep in touch and make new connections. This is how Catherine Ince, chief curator of V&A East, which is set to transform the East Bank of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2024, first met artist Liaqat Rasul, who started making collages for friends in 2017 after more than a decade as a fashion designer.
“Liaqat Rasul’s arresting work is full of colour, texture and personality. It draws you in as the intricacies of the layers and graphic elements start to unfold before your eyes,” says Catherine Ince. “I, like Liaqat, like papers and pens and humble, everyday, found materials; he seems to work intuitively but the shapes and abstract forms are often quite familiar and speak to people, place and cultures on a fundamental level.”

After connecting through social media during the pandemic, the duo recently met in person at Rasul’s Grosvenor Gallery exhibition ‘Patterns of the Past: Weaving Heritage in Pakistani Art’ in Mayfair. The exhibition, held in collaboration with Canvas Gallery, Karachi, brought together five contemporary ‘Pakistani’ artists; each of whom use textiles to unravel conventional notions of art, heritage, nation and identity. While these artists have been defined as ‘Pakistani’, this show and its works aim to dismantle inter/national stereotypes about ‘Pakistani art’. Liaqat Rasul’s work was displayed alongside works by Bushra Waqas Khan, David Alesworth, Adeela Suleman and Ruby Chishti.

Catherine Ince says: “Talking together, I realised that we have lots of friends in common and that I had come across Liaqat’s work before, through his fashion label Ghulam Sakina [the label closed in 2009 after 10 years]. It was perhaps inevitable that our paths would cross again, and no surprise I was instantly attracted to Liaqat’s graphic style and passionate energy. I’m excited about his forthcoming Crafts Council and TOAST residency and hope more people discover his joyous, complex and positive art.”

This year’s TOAST Creative Residency will include a three-day programme of talks, workshops and live demonstrations hosted both online and in person at the Crafts Council Gallery, Islington between 21-23 October. Rasul will share his innovative ways of working with found materials, from envelopes and old stamps to egg boxes, paper cups and plates, in conversation with curator of creative partnerships and programmes Annabelle Campbell. His final piece, inspired by the seasonal campaign titled ‘Rewilding’, will later be donated to the Crafts Council collection.

For Rasul, making art is an act of hope. He hopes the viewer takes in different elements of his collages, in their own time, meditatively, distracted from smart phones and the persistently digital world.

He says: “I’m so grateful to be able to create my art. Life is hard, I’ve spent a long time juggling the life and work formula. I’m gaining equilibrium as I type, being OK is the new sexy.

“My biggest achievement is to keep going and explore my art practice, falling flat on my face and getting up again, managing my mental health.”

About the champion

The Wick - Feature Collage artist Liaqat Rasul

Before joining the V&A and leading the curatorial vision of its two new sites in East London, Catherine Ince was a curator at the Barbican Art Gallery. There she organised major exhibitions and publications including The World of Charles and Ray Eames (2015) and Bauhaus: Art as Life (2012). Catherine was also made an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2018 and is a trustee of the Architecture Foundation.

“Liaqat Rasul’s arresting work is full of colour, texture and personality.”

Place of Birth

Wrexham, North Wales

Education

A BTEC Foundation Diploma in Art (Distinction) – everyone should do one. First-Class BA (Hons) Fashion Studies with Textiles, Derby University and a six-month student exchange at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi, India from 1997-98 – it changed my life and I made beautiful friendships

Awards, Accolades

Liberty London bought my graduating collection (in 1999) and the Liberty family pre-paid £10,000 for my first collection. I won the Topshop-sponsored London Fashion Week NEWGEN exhibition stand for three seasons and designed three Ghulam Sakina for Topshop collections. The brand Ghulam Sakina sold in Liberty, Matches, Selfridges and Browns.

Current exhibitions

I have a collage work in the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition that’s on until January. I’ve also done a collage for WaterAid and Rankin, which will come out in November.


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