The first major survey exhibition of Pakistani contemporary art opens this week at the Asia Society Museum in New York.  Titled Hanging Fire, the exhibition provides an important window into the creative energies of a country more often associated in the West with political conflict and social instability.

Faiza Butt: Get Out of My Dreams 1. Courtesy of the artist and the Asia Society

The show includes 55 works by 15 Pakistani artists, revealing a vibrant yet little-known contemporary art scene that has flourished over the past two decades in the world’s second-largest Muslim-majority country.  The exhibition is curated by the well-known Pakistani artist and curator Salima Hashmi.

Hanging Fire: Contemporary Art from Pakistanincludes a wide range of works including painting, photography, sculpture and video.  Some of the works have never before been exhibited, including a painting installation by Imran Qureshi. Other featured artists included Hamra Abbas, Bani Abidi, Zahoor ul Akhlaq, Faiza Butt, Imran Qureshi, Anwar Saeed, Ayaz Jokhio, Naiza Khan, Arif Mahmood, Huma Mulji, Asma Mundrawala, Rashid Rana, Ali Raza, Adeela Suleman and Mahreen Zuberi.

Adeela Suleman: Untitled. Courtesy of the artist and the Asia Society

The works on display in Hanging Fire attest to a rich cultural heritage and vibrant contemporary art scene, informed by Pakistan’s cultural history of dissent and activism.  Throughout the country’s turbulent history since its inception in 1947, Pakistan has produced a diverse and productive group of artists, art educators, critics, curators and collectors.  Today Pakistani artists are having an increasing impact on the art world both regionally and globally.  Contemporary art in Pakistan weaves visual elemenets from ancient and colonial history together together with issues stemming from the country’s growing urban culture, regional cultures and conflicts, and religious fundamentalism.

A full color, 160-page publication, Hanging Fire: Contemporary Art from Pakistan, accompanies the exhibition.  The show runs from September 10 to January 3, 2010, at the Asia Society Museum, 725 Park Avenue in New York.

Browse the mini-gallery below for more images from Hanging Fire.

Hamra Abbas: Ride 2. Courtesy of the artist and Green Cardamom, and the Asia Society
Imran Qureshi: Moderate Enlightenment. Courtesy of the artist and the Asia Society
Zahour ul Akhlaq; A Visit to the Inner Sanctum 4. Courtesy of Richard Seck and Asia Society
Naiza Khan: Constellation of Attire. Courtesy of the artist and the Asia Society
Arif Mahmood: Young and the the Fearless. Courtesy of the artist and the Asia Society
Anwar Saeed: A Book of Imaginary Companions. Courtesy of the artist and the Asia Society
Asma Mundrdawala: Is You Is or Is You Ain’t…? Courtesy of the artist and the Asia Society
Huma Mulji: High Rise: Lake City Drive. Courtesy of the artist and the Asia Society
Ali Raza: No Two Burns Are the Same. Courtesy of the artist and the Asia Society