Asim Butt (R), a girl sprays 'Rebel Angel' using stencil.
Asim Butt (R), a girl sprays 'Rebel Angel' using stencil.

Artists, photographers and admirers gathered together at T2F on January 15th to celebrate the life of painter Asim Butt, who passed away on this date six years ago.

Friends and family came together to replicate his famous graffiti on the wall outside T2F, using stencils to recreate work ranging from 'Dictator' to 'Rebel Angel', and from his 'eject' symbol to 'Hum dekhenge.'

The whir and hiss of cans of spray paint couldn't disguise the evening's somber tone, though. Inside T2F, posters and postcards honouring Asim's memory reminded visitors of what the art world had lost.

Soon all were seated as Shahana Rajani began a discussion by inviting Asim's father Zahid Javed Butt to share a few words. Finding the strength to speak with difficulty, Mr. Butt spoke of the foundation in Asim's name which aims to support education and healthcare for those who can't afford these facilities. He said that the family auctioned Asim's work because he had wanted to 'serve humanity' hence the Asim Butt Trust was made.

(L-R): Shahana Rajani. Arif Mehmood, Tapu Javeri and  Sameera Raja
(L-R): Shahana Rajani. Arif Mehmood, Tapu Javeri and Sameera Raja

Gone too soon

Photographer Arif Mehmood said that Asim also had an interest in photography which was evident when he picked the three best photos from Arif's solo exhibition in 2005 despite the fact that he couldn't afford them — one being the famous photo of a boy holding a gun on the beach.

Asim's sudden death shocked many because he was destined for greatness and all Arif could say after he heard of his passing was ' he's gone too soon'.

Tapu Javeri speaks during the discussion
Tapu Javeri speaks during the discussion

Photographer Tapu Javeri recalled his first meeting with Asim, whom he described as 'bursting with life'. The two became instant friends and strangely enough often talked about random things ranging from gossip to sci-fi films. Tapu also shared that Asim didn't paint for others because he didn't need to -- he painted for himself.

Sameera Raja of Canvas Gallery laughed as she said that Asim was a person who just couldn't care less about what others thought of him, which is how she met him first — as a student who critiqued work blatantly and loudly by saying 'not so nice' things. Yet she didn't mind because he was true to his opinion.

The 'Rebel Angel' that was
The 'Rebel Angel' that was

She added that when Asim had to make a TV appearance he was dressed to the nines as compared to Raja who was in her casual jeans. Upon asking the reason for his clean appearance, Asim said that he wanted to make a good impression on TV which made him into a paradox of sorts.

Bully and Bitch by Asim.
Bully and Bitch by Asim.

She also said that the 'rawness' in his work is an aspect hard to find in today's art because the artists tend to be very calculated now.

Asim was not solely an artist, he was one of the pioneering force behind the Stuckism movement in Karachi and used it to raise his voice against the then military regime. He passed away in 2010 but his legacy which he built in just a few years remains alive today. It speaks volumes about defying conventions set by society.

Email