Pakistani Art: Under the Gun

Ijaz ul Hassan / Aicon Gallery London

STILLED LIFE: Artist-activist Ijaz ul-Hassan depicts a corpse, a gunman and onlooking police in A View Through a Window

Pity Pervez Musharraf. For a military dictator torn between the forces of Islamic extremism and international opinion, even a trip to the museum is fraught. When the General opened Pakistan's National Art Gallery in August, he was confronted with gutsy pieces tackling an array of provocative subjects — from burqas to madrasahs to militarism. He paused for a long time at Left Right, a video installation about the omnipresence of Pakistan's army by the young artist Hamra Abbas, who depicts soldiers patrolling land, sea and desert.

But the Gallery's antimilitaristic exhibits failed to sway its official patron in...

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