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February 3, 2012 / the s.a. project

Guest Write-up: Pakistani artists in San Francisco

A few weeks ago I received a message from a fellow tweeter who wanted to share a write-up she had written for a Pakistani group exhibition that took place in San Francisco late last year. She sent it to a couple of English newspapers and publications in Pakistan who said they’ll look into it but nothing really came out of that.

For me, it is imperative that artists, students and viewers start looking at work and discussing it, voicing their own opinions. There are really no wrong or right opinions, unless they are based on pre-conceived notions of what should be. However, it is important to educate yourself and try to dip your finger in this murky pool! Most importantly, the more people begin to write, the more exposure Pakistani shows and artists will receive, especially those who are less covered or not covered at all in the media.

I’m glad that the writer decided to send it to me and see if I’d put it up. And I was yes yes yes to Guest Write-ups!


WORKS BY TASMIA & FATIMA – The Blue Studio – Michelle O’Connor Gallery

Tasmia Zahra Hussain (formerly Tasmia Qasuria to her NCA colleagues)website

Fatima Zaman

Paintings in oils, acrylics & mixed media

By Sehr – @Ricochet118, California

The term ‘Brain Drain’, is commonly used to refer to the exodus of talented and bright young Pakistanis that has been going on for a number of decades. However, what is usually not acknowledged is the fact that this Pakistani Diaspora has been sharing the wealth of its talents and skills within the communities where it has settled. The recognition and promotion of such achievements is becoming more important in the current socio-political climate as the repercussions of increasing paranoia and stereotyping are being manifested in alarming ways. Whenever there is a noticeable contribution made by an individual of Pakistani origin within a community, it is a triumph for the image of Pakistan and Pakistanis.

Two such immensely talented individuals making their mark away from home are Tasmia Zahra Hussain and Fatima Zaman, who currently reside in the United States. These two promising young Pakistani artists are being welcomed into the San Francisco art arena. I had the opportunity to attend the opening of their recent exhibition in San Francisco, titled ‘Works By Tasmia and Fatima’, and later sat down with these enthusiastic young ladies to talk about their art, their experience exhibiting in the US and their aspirations for the future.

Tasmia Zahra Hussain

Both artists have their own distinctive style of painting and both have completely different exposure to the arts. Tasmia appears to be the more seasoned of the two artists. She graduated with distinction from the National College of Arts in Lahore with a major in Fine Arts and went on to complete her post-baccalaureate from the San Francisco Art Institute.  She already has a presence in Pakistani art circles where she has exhibited her work a couple of times. Her work includes extensive use of floral imagery and natural elements, while her colours remain muted.  Tasmia’s paintings seem to have a slight ethereal quality to them and reflect her introspective nature. She refers to her paintings as ‘concealed pages of her life’. Most of her pieces are untitled and she explains that the reason for this is that her work is very personal and reflective of her experiences and thoughts. However, she prefers each person viewing her work to absorb it based on their own experiences instead of mulling over the basis of her inspiration.

Fatima Zaman

Interestingly, Fatima’s style is in sharp contrast to Tasmia’s. Her color palette is bold and vibrant. Her forms are sharper and more defined. Bold colors, ethnic imagery and repeated use of the female form are characteristics represented in most of her pieces. The use of color and texture in some of her works is breathtaking. Metal jewels and trinkets adorn some of her more ethnic pieces and add a whimsical, almost kinetic quality to her pieces. She creates a lot of mixed media pieces and has also created a few pieces on an unconventional wooden grain canvas.

Fatima has had no formal training in the Arts and she has always been painting as a hobby and painting on a consignment basis in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has also dabbled in other creative ventures such as jewellery designing and has worked at an interior design firm.

During our discussion, Tasmia opines that Fatima’s lack of formal training has probably worked to her advantage as she is not weighed down by the knowledge of the techniques taught in Art school. She can successfully and without hesitation bring her emotions and message to the blank canvas.  Fatima herself states that she is a very passionate person and that her real-life traits of non-conformity and emotional abandon are what are manifested in her work.

Both artists would like to exhibit their work in Pakistan. However, they are currently focusing on firmly establishing themselves in local San Francisco art circles and plan to exhibit their works in galleries around the SF Bay Area. Establishing their name in the international arena is a goal for them and their achievements are a source of pride for Pakistan.


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