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→ the autobiography paragraphs

It’s been a while since I did my bachelors in painting from NCA in 2004. I think it will be safe to use the cliché that I was young and naïve then. Now, I’m just old and naïve. It’s the only way I can explain my career graph to myself.

In 2004, it was Anwar Saeed who really helped me push my limits with my work, my materials, my techniques and most importantly my mind. When I started reading up I realized that my unplanned and frenzied attacks on board and canvases actually prescribed to the automatism theory. One that had started in psychology and eventually used by writers and artists for fierce and brilliant new results. That was in the 70’s. I was catching on late but I was proud to be on the madmen’s bandwagon.

Suddenly, my understanding of art cleaved open and I was exposed to a world of Rauschenbergs and Motherwells, Basquiats and Banksys, of Bacons and Freuds, of Schille and so many more. It was like tripping on something strong and definitely not legitimate. I started drawing parallels with some of the local artists who were revolutionaries themselves at the time of Pakistan’s infancy – leading me to appreciate Ahmed Parvez, Zubeida Agha and Anwar Saeed, amongst others.

But it wasn’t so easy for me. I was repeatedly told by many of my peers and faculty members that I was taking an easy way out by dribbling and scribbling and that the jury won’t be convinced of my skill. Of course the advice came in crudely and sometimes cruelly. Some of the senior teachers made shockingly rude remarks about the genre of work I was interested in. Stoically, I went on to do what I wished, supported by Anwar Saeed and Dr. Ivo, and received an honors degree and came in second position in a class of seventeen.

However the words of the others stayed with me for a long time. Display of skill. Was that all that an artist needed to show? Is art really that limited and expression that closeted?

Since then the mercantilist attitude of the art market and the strong lobbies – inclusive of the teachers, creators, distributors and consumers – has irked me to no end. This obviously meant that when I did not adhere to guidelines I didn’t like, I made no works for shows and that I bagged no exhibitions after the first few emerging talent shows that are granted to promising graduates. And this gravely translated into me being a non-entity in the big bubble art world of Pakistan. I was not to be taken seriously and I was to not have a view. I was not successful and I was not known. And I was not making money.

These perhaps are the most damaging attributes to stick to yourself today if you want to get anywhere in the art world. Maybe this is true for the world, I don’t know. But it rings very true for Pakistan.

I plan to change that, for myself at least. I plan to use my own work and voice to provide myself a leverage that will bring me the kind of successes I look forward to.

The project launch at Grey Noise Gallery on the 19th of September, 2010, took on this irritated view on the art market of Pakistan and the gallery-shop culture that writes the rules of the game. The interactive talk held the same day also dealt with concerns on standards, what is ‘good art’ and more importantly, what decides who is a more successful selling artist. Eventually what is the face of art and artists in Pakistan and where do the consumers and distributors of art now figure in the equation of making art.

So who am I and what kind of art do I make. I’m a person who channels her angst and mind into creative expression. In words. In marks. In silence. And in loudness. And I really don’t give a fuck if my work will sit nicely above someone’s new sofa set or not.


Leave a Comment
  1. Baoyi / Apr 11 2011 12:02 pm


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  2. Ussama. N / May 29 2011 4:33 pm

    I Never thought I would ever get excited about a blog…This has a nice ring to it…The matador who refuses to kill 🙂 Interesting.

    • the s.a. project / May 29 2011 6:18 pm

      ooh i like that you like.
      except that i’m the bull that refuses to play with the matador instead.

  3. Syed Ali Rizwan / Aug 4 2011 11:42 am

    story of an artist in the real world. ever thought why teachers and judges never do anything great,, well in my opinion they are good at memorising what others did and how they did it but miss out the most important part of any creation “WHY”?

    be prepared for a rough ride but i can see a winner not a whiner in your words

    keep us updated and all the best for all your passions and endeavors

    • the s.a. project / Aug 4 2011 7:56 pm

      many thanks for your words.

      i dont know about judges but there have been 1 or 2 PHENOMENAL teachers in my art schooling who changed the course of my thought process, and who are pretty well renowned practitioners themselves. So not all cookies belong to the same jar.

      although MOST do belong in my tummy.

  4. Faseeh Shams / Mar 30 2013 8:39 am

    Very entertaining, insightful posts and certainly one of the best Bio’s I have ever read. Even though I do not have a very long relationship with art, as I am myself on the path to become old and naive. My only affiliation with art is through my photography and the people I have met in the limited years spent behind the camera.

    Your posts on different topics related to the art in Pakistan get me closer to understanding how it is evolving and what it lacks. I look forward to reading more about your views and seeing the world through your eyes.


  1. a bit, a bout, a tad of s.a. « The s.a. Project

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