Speech by Mr. Régis de Belenet at the exhibition on contemporary miniatures
"Madam the Principal of the National College of Arts Lahore Excellencies the Ambassadors, and dear colleagues, Dear artists, Dear friends,
First of all, I would like to thank you all for your presence here. In fact, it is for the first time that this vast hall welcomes an exhibition. You have crossed all obstacles, which are a little complicated for access to our Embassy. I am sure that you will not regret your effort.
It is an immense pleasure for me to receive the National College of Arts Lahore, its Principal, Mrs. Sajida Haider Vandal, few of its professors and its talented artists.
The NCA has very prestigious origins. Called Mayo School in the past, this institution was founded in 1875 and Mr. Lokwood Kipling, the father of Rudyard, was its first Principal. The School has also a reputation of becoming the reference for artistic training in Pakistan.
For the French Embassy in Pakistan, the NCA is the first partner of our cultural cooperation. We have particularly contributed during the last five years to the creation of a “Multimedia” department in collaboration with the Ecole Supérieure d’Arts d’Aix-en-Provence. This innovative department is recognised by Pakistani professionals; the production and audiovisual broadcasting companies recruit their staff there.
When I visited the NCA and its different sections at the end of last November, I was attracted, particularly, by the “Miniatures” section of the Fine Arts Department. Basically the credit goes to Mr. Bashir Ahmed, Head of this Department, who himself is a master of miniature paintings.
He knows how to transmit the traditional teaching, very disciplined, but at the same time he authorises an opening towards innovative and contemporary ideas. Today, the NCA is perhaps the only establishment of the World, which offers a diploma in this art.
As you know, the opening of this exhibition is taking place in the framework of the Francophonie’s week in Pakistan and all over the world. The launching of this week took place in Islamabad on the 20th of March with the presentation of a wonderful documentary “La Marche de l’Empereur”, “March of the Penguins” in English.
Several times, I have been asked why the opening of an exhibition like the one of this evening is taking place in the framework of the Francophonie’s week. The answer is very simple : Francophonie does not mean only a fight in favour of francophone languages or francophone cultures ; it’s above all a fight in favour of cultural diversity and against uniformisation : more uniformised we are, poorer we are also.
How to favour and promote better cultural diversity by welcoming these young artists, by encouraging them to meet with a new public, coming from a different artistic culture. In order to facilitate the dialogue, I have personally noticed that- as I experienced in Lahore- you could have a glimpse of the conception and practice of this art of miniature, and I thank all the young artists for having taken part in this demonstration.
I invite you to view these motifs, which saturate the space they occupy or on the contrary refine them almost up to abstraction, to be attentive to the precision, to notice the immense detail of each situation, to the brightness or to the sobriety of the colours, to this harmonious mixing between a traditional painting and the expression of their preoccupations of today.
Finally a practical point; these paintings are for sale. Those who would like to buy them, should contact the representatives of NCA or directly the artists themselves, the actual buying will take place in the premises of NCA in Rawalpindi where the exhibition will be presented after the private viewing of this evening.
I would not like to end my words without thanking Mr. Muhammad Adnan Ali, Director General of Vinci in Pakistan, whose generosity allowed this exhibition to come up with a beautiful catalogue, which is at your disposal. I would also like to thank Mr. Jorge Sequeira, Director of UNESCO in Pakistan for his help."
Régis de Belenet, Ambassador of France to Pakistan