A Timid Little Foray

Making Colliature: An Interdisciplinary process

As an artist, every time I am asked to label my art or identify the main media in my practice on a form, my first instinct is to write ‘interdisciplinary’ then the wheels in my brain kick in, I overthink and backspace my way to replace my first response with ‘multi-disciplinary’.

Whats the difference? you ask. Very slight, but once you know it, it bores a whole in your understanding of your own practice. Multi-disciplinary art implies an artist uses a variety of media in their practice. This could range from painting, drawing, printmaking, performance to video, sound installations and whatever else you may like. And that is exactly how I work. Exploring one media, then another, then another and so on. This helps me focus, as each new media presents a new challenge. (Of course, concept also contributes to the medium chosen.)

Then there is Interdisciplinary Art. This is uber cool – a whole new level of creative. Because, this is where the artist takes two different media and marries them so that a chimera is born. Or a whole new genre, particular to the artists practice, is birthed. Simply put, using the principals of one media and applying them to the another to make something new, constitutes Interdisciplinary Art practice.

Now, I understand that Art exudes a cool, lack of rules stance on life, but despite that, Art does not equal anarchy. To elucidate, even tough art defies boundaries, definition and rules, it still manages to retain them. Conspicuously, it’s an oxymoron. Hence, I quote my A levels art teacher, ‘you have to know the rules, to break them’.
Suffice is to say that even though Multi-disciplinary, Interdisciplinary, Conceptual are just titles, they are quite significant in the world of creativity.

Completely by accident, Interdisciplinary is the turn my work has taken. For a number of practical and nostalgic reasons, I returned to painting miniatures in 2014. After painting three consecutive pieces, I took a creative break in the form of collage, taking the series forward with this relatively faster medium. It being my first ever collage, I loved the freedom and skill the medium demanded. It is possible to achieve a feel similar to collage digitally, but being the hands-on maker that I am, I preferred paper and exacto and immersed myself in the process of collage-making, consequently fuelling a potential love affair.

The above explains how I started prancing between miniature painting and collage, however I am unable to pinpoint the moment I took on the principles and methodology of miniature painting and applied it to collage. As I type here, I am working on a piece – a collage – executed with the principles of miniature painting, employing paint application, burnishing, borders, hashia, gidwal, thinking 4D and so on and so forth.

As I move towards resolving this piece, I feel like I can finally claim myself within the genre of interdisciplinary art. However, no doubt, in the massive sphere of interdisciplinary , this is a small and timid step, but its a start, an exciting and fun start.
Here’s hoping it’s only a matter of time before this foray, this timid little step transforms into big foot.

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Where the Shadows are so Deep

Its a good day to have your article be the cover slideshow on an E-magazine!

Here’s a link to my review of Where The Shadows are so Deep, Imran Qureshi’s first major body of work in London, commissioned by the Barbican Centre.

“Not to say that the paintings in Where the Shadows Are so Deep are not beautiful – they most certainly are – but there is a fluidity in every piece that transcends the genre; executed in a language that has more in common with drawing than with the traditional technique of miniature painting.” – See more at:


Celestial v/s Cerebral : work-in-progress

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I have been sitting on an idea for over a month now, contemplating this blogpost and happily, I am finally getting around to it. In self defence, I must add that since I have yet to execute the idea, a months procrastination is not too bad, and it’s still not too late. More than anything else, this post is an archive of my thoughts and ideas, marking the date and year. And of course, it helps irons out the creases in my concept.

Divine, Human | Technology, Intervention
Intervenchnology – Working Title.

This is how it started. At night, many nights ago, somewhere in my brain there were literal biological sparks, where synapses met and metaphorical dots were connected.With the biology explained and out of the way, I am now going to focus on the emotional/theoretical. I feel like my work is taking an automatic U-turn to biotechnology though in a spirited and sprightly manner, that is not at all depressing or cumbersome. And doing so, completely of it’s own accord, perhaps subconsciously, but it is no way planned or structured by my brain.

Religion/ religious belief and practice has been at the heart of my practice since 2009. And in some ways, I have been working in continuum, on the same body of work, despite the explicit changes in language and expression.

To elucidate the return to biotechnology; the winged-animals in my paintings are a visual representation that symbolise the imagination of my 5-10 year old mind, based on mythical stories and religious ideology imparted upon me as a child, however, my chimerical creatures could very well be conceived and created by human intervention in nature, propelled by the science of biotechnology, as is exemplified by Alba ,the glow-in-dark rabbit, the first of many such experiments and creations in art and science alike.

Undoubtedly deserved, there is a a lot of credibility advocated to human ability and biological intervention in nature. It is in fact, so much credibility so as to make it almost venerable. Bearing this in mind, I embark on my latest piece for this oeuvre.

The making of an Amulet, is a three-part wearable piece of art that represents our faith in science. For this piece, I have re-appropriated conviction scribbled on paper and worn for protection by believers i.e. a Ta’aviz or Amulet. However, I have replaced the (occassionally divine) scribbles with scientific struggles, accomplishments and possibilities, elements embodied within my chimerical animals. Borrowing from the idea of an amulet or ta’awiz , this represents our faith in human ability and scientific interference as opposed to Nature and a Divine plan.

Closing in…

Exhibition Ready Cont/-..

I am done making checklists, its time for some real action.
I have my work and two other artists work lying in my foyer, its a matter of time now before installation begins! The cabs booked and by this time tomorrow the works will be in the gallery.

So far two drafts of invitations have been made.
The first one was vetoed. The second one has been edited, fixed, circulated and distributed.
Even though the first didn’t work I was quite fond of it. Thus I have decided to put up here.

Exhibiton Ready

And the list goes on – its endless! I feel like I am adding and checking a new thing to my checklist every so often – All part and parcel of curating. Don’t get me wrong, I love organizing and making checklists but curating takes organizing to a whole new level! I labour on with bated breath looking forward to 19th December 2013!

Even though I have curated before, this is the very first time I am going solo as a curator. Needless to add, I am enjoying it immensely. This show is particularly special because it reflects my personal practice.

Titled Rough Around the Edges the show celebrates the act of making in contemporary art. During my MA, more often than not I was both appreciated and criticized for being a ‘maker’. That is to say I like to use my hands to create objects, pieces, tangible artefacts, scrolls, sculpture, anything! If I can’t produce a physical object, I am not satisfied. It doesn’t always have to begin or end with a physical piece of art, but somewhere along the process there will be art-making in the tradition sense of the term!
With this show, I am embracing my way of being an artist. Based on the notion of hand-made, my aim for this exhibition has been to look for artists who have spent significant time in arriving at the final material used to resolve their work while engaging with the process of making. Each artist in this group has painstakingly put together their piece(s), be it through hammering, connecting, layering, building or projecting their physical being on to their creation.

Furthermore, the current state of Hanmi gallery has been inspiring. The derelict interior architecture of this Central London gallery has a rustic and mortal feel that brings into focus the unique human quality of handmade as opposed to the slick machine or computer generated work of today. Advocating great significance to skill, the work in this exhibition is as much about the process of making as it is about the content. Materiality takes centre stage as the physical effort that has gone into the making comes to the fore as a subject just as important as the concept that drives the artist’s practice.

Quite often, to conceive an idea is sufficient and making a physical, tangible piece is secondary; technicians are involved, notes shared while engagement, materiality and personal skill are allotted a back seat. This show aims to address the craft versus concept hierarchy as the pieces included exhibit critical thinking via the action and labour that has contributed to the materialization of the work. As an ode to the artists of yesteryears, the artists in this group show recognise the importance of manual labour, skill and the act of making in art. Extrapolating from the technical expertise of the artists of bygone times, this group show will emphasise the careful deliberation on construction and materiality as a means of acknowledging craft and skill as a mandatory element of contemporary art.

The above statement is just the first off my checklist – Theme of exhibition. Check.

One down, plenty more to go.

And the plot thickens..

Growing up in Pakistan, a dinner time concoction is not all one internalises.

Every year, following a little after Eid-ul-Fitr is Eid-al Azha, and try as you might you can’t ignore the animals, the slaughter nor the smell.
As muslims we sacrifice an animal in the name of God and distribute the meat to the poor and rich alike to gain God’s blessings. That may be noble but it is difficult to get passed the adorable animals being slaughtered left right and centre.

As a child I tried to watch the process as stoically as i could and perhaps at some point in time i decided that i was strong enough to not feel much. [Until I realized i was not.] Regardless, you still wonder if its fair and voice your concerns to your parents and elders. So I did.

And i was explained that it is important to do so because these animals will carry us to heaven when we die. Now, in hindsight I understand that they meant the animals were a means to attaining a place in Heaven i.e you do good, you get rewarded. However, since this conversation was almost two decades ago, through my minds eye I imagined the animals literally pop wings and serve as my ride up. Indeed.

Now, getting back to my latest creative endeavor, the Bahishti Murghi (heavenly hen) eventually dies, of natural causes of course, and it is faced with the conundrum of deciding on a ride to heaven. Needless to repeat, it is going to heaven since it ate the unidentified divine seed of the pomegranate. And since my story began on my dinner table back in Pakistan, my hen is invariably muslim, it has to chose between sheep, a lamb, a cow and a camel. The four most popular animals for sacrifice on the event of Eid ul Azha.

Henceforth my latest piece is an ode to the Ride-to-Paradise brigade.

Cranial Concoction

I am glad to be free of the pressure and the stress related to being in school and completing a masters degree. Researching genetic engineering and the possibilities of adopting biotechnology for my work left me a bit drained. Craving a break and a lighter subject i decided to shift to miniature painting. Now, miniature painting is no joke but it is a great means of illustration and my plan is to illustrate a little something I refer to as a cranial concoction. Simply put, it’s a story.

My story begins where a myth ends; it continues on from where fact and fiction collide.

When I was little my parents used several techniques to teach us etiquette and train us for life. One way was through the act of storytelling.

Lesson no. 1
Don’t waste your food. Its a blessing from God.

In this vein, whenever there was a pomegranate in sight we were told a story based in religion. I am still not sure of its source or whether it was fiction – probably a myth – but it is widely believed that one unknown seed of the pomegranate is divine. Anyone who has that particular seed will go straight to heaven after death, skipping hell and punishment altogether. The Moral being that one should not waste their food (especially if its a pomegranate) and eat all the juicy seeds.

Now back to the story.

*Scene – Dinner table, 8pm, when I was much younger*

Bearing in mind the divine nature of an unknown pomegranate seed, a man decides to leave civilisation and the hustle and bustle of city life behind for one afternoon to be able to eat his fruit (pom) in peace, far away from the distractions of daily life. His aim is to eat every seed so as to gain certainty of paradise upon death.
Sitting in a secluded area, he cuts open his fruit and starts deseeding it. Happily, he starts eating it. In the process, a single seed slips from between his fingers and rolls a short distance away. Before he can make a start to retrieve it, along comes a little hen and pecks away at the seed.

*Shocked silence*

*Hen clucking*

*The end*

There were always way too many conclusions at the end of this story in my head. Should he have shared? Greed is a bad thing. One must not look for shortcuts to go to heaven. And always, my final and most obvious conclusion was Now the hen will go to heaven. Or will it?

My next series of miniature paintings start where the story ends. The Hen pecks away at a seed, possibly a divine seed, unwittingly paving its way to paradise.