Art Galleries in Lahore: Overview, History & More
From its gritty neighborhoods to glittering nightlife, an electric and energising tension lies just beneath the rigid surface of Lahore. The city has always been synonymous with art and creativity. In recent years especially, a number of community centers, performance venues, and art galleries in Lahore have weaved new strength into its cultural fabric, making it a creative epicenter.
Pakistan has a long and rich history in visual art, including painting, sculptures, textiles, and decorative arts. Lahore celebrates generations of renowned artists by exhibiting a wide range of their mediums, styles, and experiments. You can view the kernels of the brilliance of those who are masters of their respective fields, as well as of many up-and-coming artists. Several art galleries in Lahore provide a supportive, thriving space for artists of all inclinations to showcase their work. Many also help newcomers gain momentum among the art glitterati of the community.
Graana.com, Pakistan’s smartest property portal, has listed the top art galleries in Lahore below, where you have multiple opportunities to discover, stop and reflect.
Pakistani Art: A Brief Overview
As a whole, Pakistani art is set in an unusual context; it focuses on both the past and the present, reflecting its post-colonial sensibility. Previously, there were strong influences from the Indian subcontinent (most notably from the Mughal period), until the partition brought about a new kind of art to represent the fledgling nation.
Artists adopted Western techniques and styles to fit into the modern world. For instance, calligraphy, which is closely linked to the Islamic faith, evolved into calligraphic modernism in the 1960s and 1970s. Artists would express various social, ethical, and political predicaments through modern art.
Until the early 1990s, Pakistani artists would primarily focus on oil or watercolor paintings and sculptures. After that time period, they began to experiment with new mediums and technologies. Despite contemporary movements, however, Pakistani art continues to echo a strong, proud and rich heritage.
List of Art Galleries in Lahore
The following are some of the best art galleries in Lahore, where you can explore the evolution of Pakistani art, masterpiece by masterpiece.
Alhamra Arts Council
The Alhamra Arts Council was designed and completed by the illustrious architect Nayyar Ali Dada in 1992, who went on to win the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1998 for this building.
The complex comprises an open-air theatre, large auditorium, art gallery, and music center. In addition, the entire structure is made of red bricks, as a nod to Mughal architecture. It serves as a space for all artists in all forms, at only a nominal fee.
The art gallery is the largest in Punjab, and hosts art shows throughout the year, representing some of the most important artists of our time. It is also known for championing lesser-known artists and reviving some of the dying arts. Its purpose is to encourage, sponsor, arrange and organize art exhibitions (where technical or financial support is readily available), to promote work that adheres to international standards.
Even in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, several initiatives were taken to manage virtual exhibitions; as explained by Lahore Arts Council Executive Director Saman Rai, “the culture must go on”.
Nairang Art Gallery
Inaugurated in 1990, the artwork at Nairang Art Gallery spans many movements and mediums, such as abstract, calligraphy, figurative, landscape, and miniature paintings. It displays work by both preeminent and emerging artists in a traditional, intimate setting.
It is one of the most visited art galleries in Lahore, with its unique concept of integrating multiple forms of art, including literature and performing arts, on a single platform.
Ejaz Art Gallery
The Ejaz Art Gallery was founded in 1998 as Pakistan’s biggest private gallery. Its space of more than 12,000 square feet is devoted to exhibiting the contemporary and modern art of Pakistan.
Its luxury finishes, warm light, and wood and leather interior set the scene for displaying the work of distinguished local and international artists. It has hosted a number of striking, interactive exhibitions, where artists can freely exchange ideas through presentations, lectures, and workshops.
The gallery’s mission is to promote young artists who seek exposure to the art market; it connects them with professionals, art collectors, and other artists in the community.
You can also find some of the pieces in their collection on sale.
Hamail Art Galleries
Hamail Art Galleries is one of the most popular art galleries in Lahore that specialises in modern and contemporary art. It started as a relatively modest space, to now become a global powerhouse with an outlet in Al Quoz, Dubai.
The latter was established in 2012 to facilitate international buyers. It hosts exhibitions by a large roster of local and international contemporary artists, which includes both luminaries and beginners.
The gallery has a large network in the art world to aid customers in their experience of viewing and buying artwork; cultivate the individual agency of new artists; and promote collaboration.
As its name suggests, Revivers Galleria aims to highlight neglected and forgotten artists in Pakistan. Established in 2009, the gallery plays host to both traditional and modern art. The artwork ranges from pottery and ceramics to paintings and miniatures.
It also realises the important economic impact of creativity and, thus, organises several workshops and classes to share the expertise of different professionals and make art accessible to the next generation.
Ocean Art Galleries
This is one of the largest art galleries in Lahore, which attempts to bring together artists under one banner with a focused mission: to create awareness. From landscape and calligraphy to figurative and abstract, it bridges the old and the new in its collection of paintings.
It aims to champion all kinds of artists, as well as enable customers to have meaningful interactions with art.
With branches in Lahore, Karachi, Ras Al-Khaimah, and Dubai, Unicorn Gallery is a major art-world player. It has featured the likes of Jean-Claude Novaro, M. F. Husain, Francis Newton Souza, and Senaka Senanayake. Furthermore, Ahmed Parvez, Bashir Mirza, Abdur Rahman Chughtai, and Sadequain are some of the local famed artists who have been exhibited here as well.
The gallery has mounted many significant exhibitions, including one at Bonhams, London, where Sadequain’s piece ‘Crucifixion’ was auctioned off at an impressive £118,750.
It has initiated a diverse range of activities that engage with art, education, and sustainability, such as annual art book fairs, documentary screenings, seminars, launches, and internship opportunities.
The booming number of art galleries in Lahore reflects the dynamic urban community that they are a part of. Art was, and continues to be, integral to the city.
For more information on Pakistani art, visit our blog.