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February 2, 2011 / the s.a. project

Three Blind Mice | PaperCuts

I recently wrote an article for an online literary magazine, PaperCuts, that delved briefly into the works of three young Pakistani artists. It wasn’t a review or a critique, but more so a general discussion of their work and an understanding of their work process and development. The three artists are Tehreem Jafri, Imran Channa and Naqsh Raj.

The article ‘Three Blind Mice’ has been featured as the cover story of the magazine on their Winter 2011 issue!

It was an interesting challenge because much of my MA thesis work involved dissecting art reviews/critiques published in newspapers and nitpicking on elements of mystification, ludicrousness, and/or standard jargon. How was I to write my own piece when I had all these things swimming in my brain? I therefore present here my article and theoretically speaking lay myself on the chopping board for you…


by Saira Ansari

Every year hundreds of students graduate from art schools in Pakistan with degrees in fine arts facing a critical decision the minute they step out of school: will they earn from their art professionally or will they pursue other complementary, but commercially viable, professions?

The art world of Pakistan is a rapidly growing entity and the demands of its influential denizens – the galleries, collectors, critics and curators – have a direct impact on the institutions that are educating and training the next batch of artists. The pressure to deliver, therefore, is understandably colossal. Fresh graduates step outside of their institutes with varying levels of degree honours and attitudes to match. What most of them are not armed with is the knowledge to survive in the brutal world of the art market.

For this article I interviewed three recent art graduates from across the country, who have excelled in the field of visual arts. Specifically, I have looked at how these three – Tehreem Jafri, Naqsh Raj and Imran Channa – developed their style and practice in art school and what their plans are for the future.  Of particular note is the fact that these three artists belong to comparatively smaller cities –Taxila, Quetta and Shikarpur – respectively, and not Lahore or Karachi, two art centres that are the predominant focus of art reviews. All three have, at one point or another, received instruction at either of the two campuses of the National College of Arts (NCA).

You can continue reading the rest of the article ‘Three Blind Mice’ over here...(click click)


The online magazine is called PaperCuts. According to their website description, Papercuts is the bi-annual literary magazine of Desi Writers Lounge – an online workshop for writers of South Asian origin and writing on South Asia. Both DWL and PaperCuts are run entirely on a voluntary basis.

I had the great opportunity of working with Afia Aslam who is the Editor of PaperCuts. Volume 7 of this e-zine was like her baby as it involved a whole lot of image revamping as well as bringing in guest writers…like me! According to their website: The theme for this issue is ‘Outside: Looking In’. As the title indicates, it is meant to inspire introspection, except in this case we did not just ask our writers to look inside themselves, but to reflect on their society as if they were outsiders. In doing so, they were compelled to examine (directly and obliquely) what it means to be ‘desi’ and what qualifies one to be a functioning member of a ‘desi society’. Often, this led them to look at groups that exist at the periphery of the popular imagination in their home countries, be it glue-sniffing adolescents (Omer Wahaj, Stuck), homosexuals (Aparna Sanyal, Tedhi Lakeer), perpetrators of religious violence (Asnia Asim, Love Synthesized) or revolutionaries (Moazam Rauf, Drink a Few Verses Today).

I would recommend that you take out a wee bit of your time and visit this very interesting destination online. You can find PAPERCUTS here:





Leave a Comment
  1. Afia / Feb 2 2011 3:58 pm


  2. s.h / Feb 2 2011 9:08 pm


  3. s.h / Feb 2 2011 9:53 pm

    i really love it and want to read again again but by the way i have never seen tehreem jafari’s works

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