Focus On: Pakistan

List of Artists
  • Zafar Ali
  • Haider Ali Akmal
  • Hajra Cheema
  • Omar Gilani
  • Mahnoor Hussain
  • Kausar Iqbal
  • Ramzan Jafri
  • Summaiya Jilani
  • Scheherezade Junejo
  • Imran Kazmi
  • Sara Riaz Khan
  • Amra Khan
  • Ujala Khan
  • Shiblee Munir
  • Tahira Noreen
  • Anam Rani
  • Sachal Rizvi
  • Mohsin Shaikh
  • Saqiba Suleman
  • Annem Zaidi
Focus On: Pakistan is curated by Zara Sajid at MyArtWorld.
Zara Sajid

Zara Sajid, co-owner at MyArtWorld, is a curator based in Islamabad, Pakistan, for the online art gallery promoting Pakistani contemporary art. Sajid graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Design  from the National College of Arts, Lahore in 2013 and completed a course from the Chelsea College of Arts, London in Critical Thinking in Contemporary Art Practice. Shortly after graduating, Zara showcased her mixed media works at the Taseer Art Gallery, Lahore & found her true calling. Following her newly found passion, she launched MyArtWorld along with Zainab Omar in May 2013 and has since then has curated  over 45 shows exhibiting works of established as well as emerging contemporary To both local as well as international audiences, connoisseurs and art collectors. Her exhibitions were particularly well received in India and Dubai. Owning to her refined expertise, Zara has been an active speaker at various forums.  Her most successful talks were at the Islamabad Lit Festival from 2014-16 at the art of curating & gallery practise panel discussions.

My Art World – founded by Zainab Omar

The first of it’s kind, MyArtWorld is an online art gallery for established and emerging contemporary Pakistani artists.
MyArtWorld, founded by Zainab Omar, is a platform for art collectors globally to browse or purchase from the latest artistic movements in the sub-continent, to follow the creativity of their favourite artist and to identify new talent.
We are proud to host the portfolios of many established artists on MyArtWorld. By creating this platform, we have also empowered many of our emerging artists to reach a much greater global audience and thereby develop sustainable careers. At MyArtWorld we encourage artists to manage their own portfolios and price their own work letting both artists and collectors bypass any formalities.
Through premiere sightings at MyArtWorld, art aficionados worldwide have a true opportunity to discover and buy Pakistani contemporary art online and have it delivered to their doorstep.

Artists’ Biographies
Zafar Ali

Zafar Iqbal was born in 1992 at Bahawalnagar and currently lives and works in Lahore. I did my bachelors from the college of art and design (PUCAD) Lahore in 2016 with a specialization of Painting. I have participated in several shows and exhibitions in last few years. Currently doing my MFA visual arts from National College of arts Lahore

Haider Ali Akmal

Haider is primarily a Printmaker with a BFA from NCA Lahore, but also a Design Futurist and Researcher with a Masters from Lancaster University UK. He’s currently undergoing a PhD Studentship at Lancaster in Design Fiction a branch of literature, film, and speculative design. Asides from having worked as a Lecturer of Fine Arts and Design at NCA Lahore and BNU respectively, Haider has been exhibiting his work as a visual artist both locally and internationally since 2008. With a keen interest in the overlaps in design, art, and empathy, his work stems from his experiences with an influx of cultures and separate upbringings. The notion of nostalgia that he entertains in his work comes from an idea of being away from oneself, relating to a mental or physical state of partition.

Hajra Cheema

Hajra Cheema studied Architecture and Design at National College of Arts (NCA) Lahore. She later went to Europe on an Erasmus Mundus scholarship for her masters in Urban Studies. She received a joint degree from five different universities of Europe, namely; Vrije Universiteit Brussel & Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium), Universität Wien (Austria), København Universitet (Denmark) and Universidad Autonoma de Madrid & Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain). She has been involved in various projects and competitions related to urban development. Currently she works as a Lecturer and Architecture Design Instructor at university in Lahore. She is an active part of a feminist group organised under the name of the ‘The Feminist Collective’ and is currently running their page on Facebook and working on a publication which will address the issue of patriarchy in Pakistan through art and writings by fellow feminists. On the side she weekly publishes satirical cartoons in a local newspaper (under the name Bibi Hajra Cheema). She is an activist who has worked as a cartoonist with the Justice Peace Project , a legal aid organisation that works for the rights of the citizens . Her area of interest and the focus of her upcoming art show in October 2017 is ‘yahan sab kuch chalta hae’ (Here Anything Goes) it is about urbanization of Lahore, with a particular focus on capitalism, consumer culture and gender politics of space.

Omar Gilani

Omar was born in Peshawar, Pakistan. He initially attempted to pursue a stable profession in Engineering rather than following his passion for creating art. This led him on a journey all the way to Washington, DC, where he was engaged in a PhD in Robotics Design. Better sense (or lack thereof) ultimately prevailed, and he quit the PhD and returned to Pakistan with an MSc and an MPHil, to craft a career more aligned with his true interests. For the next two years he worked as a University professor, technical writer, graphic designer, consultant, illustrator, and multimedia artist, all the while traveling extensively around his homeland. He ultimately found full-time work as a video game concept artist in Lahore, a profession he engaged in for two years. After that he began freelance illustration, and it was during this time, in 2016, that his pet project was conceived.
The project, titled Pakistan+, explores what Pakistan would look like in an alternative Sci-Fi reality. The project has garnered local and international acclaim, being featured by the BBC, Yahoo! News, MSN, The Indian Express, and several other well reputed publications. His work has been exhibited in Islamabad (2014), Lahore (2016), Columbia University, USA (2017), and Dubai, UAE (2017), with an upcoming exhibition in Seoul, South Korea.
Omar is currently exploring alternative forms for the Pakistan+ project, including animations, virtual reality experiences, and multimedia displays. He lives in Seoul, working as a freelance illustrator and art consultant for international clients.

Mahnoor Hussain

Mahnoor Hussain is an aspiring Visual Artist born in 1986 in the historic city of Lahore, Pakistan. Lahore, with its strong ties to the Mughal Era of Indian Subcontinent and home to some of the greatest South Asian practices of Art and Architecture, provided a perfect backdrop for Hussain’s creativity to flourish. Coupled with recognition and encouragement from peers and family she completed her Bachelors of Fine Arts (BFA) with first class honors from the prestigious National College of Arts Lahore in 2009, specializing in Miniature Painting and received the Renard and Ibrahim Excellence Award for her work.
Traditional Indo-Persian Miniature painting was used as book illustration and had a narrative quality, which can still be glimpsed in Hussain’s work along with the traditional materials and technique. Though she has retained these components, she acknowledges that for any art form to prosper it must evolve to express current human experience. Contemporary Miniature painting is still in its infancy. Though that grants larger room for exploration it also lacks in recognition. The purpose of pursing a degree in miniature painting for Hussain was an attempt at creating a connection between the old culturally rich narrative art form and the contemporary portrayal of today’s world.
Professionally, Hussain has a great deal of exposure in various art related fields varying from teaching Advanced level Art and Design to creating a fashion accessories brand as well as Illustration work for an interactive English Language learning tool. She has participated in a number of art shows, at Lahore as well as at the Pakistan National Council of Arts in Islamabad. Her work has also been showcased in Milan at an art show organized by Moulin de l’Est, a Parisian cultural society dedicated to the promotion of Pakistani contemporary Art.
Hussain’s inherent poetic inclination towards expressing herself through her work is best described by borrowing words from the renowned Pakistani Art critic, Quddus Mirza- “They are about human nature and feelings, which remain the same with the passage of time.” The images, though pertaining to traditional miniature are realistic in contrast and contain irony. Almost like people frozen in time, Hussain’s subjects, sometimes directly gazing at the viewer, other times create a voyeuristic presence, have an undeniable appeal that one can’t help but be drawn to. The issues addressed by Hussain are of an emotional disposition and portray the psyche and struggle of individuals. The world today compared to the one where traditional miniature took birth, is full of novelties inevitably brought in by time and today’s human experience, a complex mix of similarities and differences from that bygone era. The same parallels are manifest in Hussain’s work; a fresh authenticity that is recognizably modern amalgamated with the timeless and traditional elements of Indo-Persian miniature painting. Themes ranging from obsessive behavior through eating disorders to isolation and its effects- mixed with a vibrant color palette and expressive portraits are her trademark.
Currently the Artist is residing in Chicago, USA, and continues to pursue her painting career.

Kausar Iqbal

Born in 1980 in Pakistan, Kausar Iqbal is a practicing artist keen on the miniature tradition of painting. He graduated from the prestigious National College of Arts, Lahore in 2006 with a major in Miniature. He has trained and worked in a variety of techniques in print-making, sculpture and photography and has attended two workshops related to paper mash and calligraphy. In 2016 he was chosen to participate in the Islamic Republic International Festival in Algeria. He currently lives in Lahore and teaches at the Pakistan Institute of Fashion and Design.

Ramzan Jafri

I, Ramzan Jafri, born in 1984 in Quetta Pakistan. Quetta is a city where every now & then we heard a new incident of target killing, bomb blasting of innocent people.  However, living in such environment I also do not know how my interest was developed in arts. However, due to my interest in Arts after intermediate I got the opportunity to Join National College of Art (NCA) Lahore, Pakistan. I successfully completed my BFA in the year 2012 with Distinction. Since my specialization was miniature painting, the area of work which gives strong expression and meaning to my relevant subject. My medium is mixed media on vasli and gouache which is inspired by the incidents I have witnessed and the incidents around the world. After Graduation, I have participated in different National & International Exhibitions where my paintings were welcomed with open heart in the world of Art. Currently I am doing my MA (Hons) in Visual Arts from National College of Arts Lahore, Pakistan.

Summaiya Jillani

Summayya Jillani is a fine artist, currently practicing art in Pakistan. In 2011, she received her B.F.A. from the Department of Visual Studies, University of Karachi. She established her career mainly as a painter and partly as an art instructor at different institutes and independently held art workshops. Most of her teaching practice is pro-bono, for free education schools in her city, however she has been part of the faculty of the Communication Design Department of Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture since 2011.
Her vivid paintings of famous icons from cinema, sports, music and science gained her recognition amongst the emerging artists of Pakistan. In 2012, she set a new benchmark for her audience with her Desi Marilyn Monroe, which became an instant hit in the Pakistani art scene. Outside Pakistan, her works have been exhibited in New Dehli, U.A.E., Philadelphia and New York.
She has also been a keen theatre actor and a sports person and won many awards for playing badminton in Pakistan.

Scheherezade Junejo

Scheherezade Junejo was born in 1986 in Karachi. She graduated from National College of Arts, Lahore, in January 2010 with a BFA (Honours) Degree. Using her knowledge and study of human anatomy, Scheherezade attempts to highlight the duality in our psychosis, while simultaneously trying to de-objectify/re-objectify the nude form.
Scheherezade has participated in 35 exhibits so far over the span of her career, both group and solo, and both national and international; since June 2010. The most notable international shows in which she has taken part are: Moniker Art Fair at the Old Truman Brewery, London in October 2016; “Mirrors of the Artosphere” at Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York in August 2016; “Art Expressions” at Capital Club, DIFC, Dubai in June 2016; Art Basel, Miami in December 2015; Pakistan Art Today at the Lalit Hotel, New Delhi in October 2014; and Affordable Art Fair at the Royal Exhibition Museum, Melbourne in May 2012. She was featured in the 1st edition of Current Masters, a publication of contemporary artists by World Wide Art Books in 2015. She was also awarded “10 Best Works” at the Alhamra Arts Council, Lahore in April 2011.
Scheherezade designed customized sculptural pieces for the Fall Cabaret Collection by Monsieur Fox in July 2013. She has been an Adjunct faculty member at Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, teaching Drawing and Painting from 2013 till 2017. She lives in Karachi and currently co-curates shows for Full Circle Gallery, Karachi and My Art World, Islamabad.

Imran Kazmi

Imran Kazmi was born in Kasur in 1993. He did private f.a from Kasur, and join nca in 2013 he explore a lots of mediums but currently his medium which mostly he used is oil paints on canvas, and his subject is relationship.

Sara Riaz Khan

Having been brought up in Pakistan and England, I am lucky to be part of two different cultures and currently spend time between Muscat, Lahore and London. Growing up in the farmlands of the Punjab as well as the English countryside consolidated my connection with nature. I was fortunate to have the support of my family, who were interested in the arts and poetry and several of my exhibitions have had their genesis as poems (There is Beauty Yet, Earth in My Bones, At the Land’s End, Songs of Spring).
My mother’s passing away when I was nineteen altered the trajectory of my life and brought me to SOAS to study Islamic Art and Architecture. Subsequently, I had a variety of experiences in the art field, including going to Heatherly’s Art College and working in an Asian art gallery. In 2002, I gave administrative support to and acted as a tour guide for the exhibition ‘Pakistan: Another Vision. Later that year, conducting educational art activities at the Commonwealth Institute for a Pakistani Poster workshop introduced me to the sphere of art education.
After moving from London to Muscat in 2002, the peace of the city and proximity to the mountains regenerated my creativity. I exhibited in a group show in 2004 and in 2005 started working as the artist-­‐in-­‐residence at ABA an IB World School. My daughter’s accident in 2007 changed the way I saw the world and how I worked. I had been invited to join the SUNY Masters course the school was offering to the staff and was able to start teaching.
Working as an IB Design and Art teacher in Muscat until 2016, I had the privilege of being in a diverse environment and developed a tremendous respect for young people and how hard their journey can be. Being part of the Design Trip to Milan was an exciting experience and my ex-­‐teaching partner and I are currently collaborating on a teachers guide to ethical design.
The students who travel back to their home countries are the real ambassadors of their generation, however an international education is nothing without a sense of compassion.
Increasingly in my own work, I am drawn to exploring what it is to be human and my place in this world. In my current series ‘Myths of Our Mothers’ I am examining how mothers can establish protective realities and uphold domestic narratives.
Being a full time artist is a recent experience and I am savouring the freedom this offers, such as allowing me to travel to Art Dubai and be involved in conferences in Lahore (City In Context, 2016). I will be represented by a Dubai based online gallery, Inspire Me in early August and will be part of a Women in Music and the Arts Festival in London next Spring.

Amra Khan

Ecce Homo – Behold, the man.
Manhood is an aberration; it is a struggle to break free of or even rebel against the fond nature of this universe. Men are trained to be “men” – the unyielding, the tenacious, the overbearing, the opportunistic. Men survive manhood training. They learn the rituals and come out a little damaged, here and there, between transitions, finally managing to make the grade as “just” a little functional. The greatest sufferers of the violence of men are other men.
“Femaleness” of humanity is inexorably tied to a time when a being is a fetus, growing and blossoming while feeding on the “femaleness” that is the universe. The development of “maleness” is complex and precarious, with an ever-present struggle with a natural inclination to return the way of the universe, restraint from which damages men while strengthening their “maleness”.
For the sons of Adam, the songs of innocence have given way to the songs of experience. The boy breaks from his infantile past, the brutal segregation is enforced between two beings that were once one. Gender is slowly enforced upon him. Roles are given not chosen. Choices are made. Machismo is way at the cost of humanity.
“What if?” “Could I?” “Must I?” “But?”
Doubts. Thoughts. Desires. Needs.
“There is no clarity!”
Doubts. Doubts subdued with blood; by the loud screaming engines’ wails; with misguided lust projecting the mighty might of testosterone.
It hides, always, something. Be it a longing or a desire. Unhappy on either side of the fence.
The more I see, the less I believe in the “Nihari Republic of Bakistan” for independence is slowly being eroded by a reliance on a fantastical version of Islamic “maleness”. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” anyone except when just “happens” to be in a “maleness” measuring contest with a fellow Bakistani. Gender. Tender. Orange line. Red White Elephants. You can’t beat the stealing.
But, why this ostentatious display? Even in the absence of the fairer sex. Is there more afoot than meets the eye? Or is it just a pair of rutting canines marking their territory?
My work tends to work around having two poles and different ideas or personalities living in the same body, Conflicting gender, power and identity. She works to speak through and incite the observer to question tangibility.

Ujala Khan

Born in 1990, Ujala Khan is a Lahore based abstract artist. Being self-taught, she believes that one shouldn’t be confined by rules or limited techniques and that growing as an artist is an ongoing process as we can never stop being inspired.
Her artistic process started out by studying about art and examining works of abstract expressionist artists. It was not until last year when she began going full-time on her artwork.
She expanded her abilities through constant experiments working in acrylics, enamel and mixed media and different application techniques such as raw brush strokes, dry palette knifing, adding paint directly from the tube, sgraffito, splattering, pouring, pulling and scraping. To her art can be both reflective and visceral as it can’t be reduced to a single meaning. She adds multiplicity to her work by using contrasting shapes and bold colors with attention to detail and texture. She draws inspiration from spontaneity and chance, resembling. Texture is juxtaposed with colorful gestural abstraction exemplifying action painting, making it partly volatile.

Shiblee Muneer

Shiblee Muneer was born in Jhang, the capital of the state of Punjab, Pakistan in a family of artists, in which miniature painting has been practiced for centuries. The family legend has it that Muneer’s ancestors followed the first Mughal Emperor Babur from their native Afghanistan to Persia and then India, as part of his team of painters and calligraphers.
Members of this family remained at the Delhi court until the early 19 century, however, with the decline of
Mughal power and art patronage, they moved to Patiala transferring the thorough grounding in the Mughal painterly tradition to this Sikh-­‐ruled court.
Muneer’s great-­‐great-­‐grandfather, Allah Ditta founded the princely painting workshop at Patiala where the so-­‐ called ‘Pahari’ style of miniature painting developed under his guidance. Allah Ditta’s grandson, and Muneer’s grandfather, Haji Mohammad Sharif (1889-­‐1978) was a well-­‐known painter not only on the Indian subcontinent but also internationally, through the UK’s India Society. He was based at Patiala and traveled to other regions on request of his employer, Maharajah Bhupinder Singh (1891-­‐1938). Several years after the death of this passionate patron of the arts, Haji Sharif applied for a teaching appointment at the Mayo School of the Arts (now National College of Arts) in Lahore where the family settled permanently after the partition of India.
Heading the Miniature Department at the Mayo School of Arts in 1945-­‐1966, Haji Sharif developed the first curriculum for teaching miniature painting at an academic institution, and he trained the first cohort of miniaturists in independent Pakistan. He is considered the founder of Pakistani miniature painting.
The painting tradition in Muneer’s family is passed from generation to generation. Both male and female family members begin learning the philosophy and techniques involved in creating a miniature—from paper production, to the mixing of pigments, to calligraphy, coloring and shading—at home, and later they apprentice with other master painters. Having followed the apprenticeship system in calligraphy and painting since an early age, Muneer also received academic degrees from the Naqsh School of Arts and Beaconhouse National University.
In addition to being a practicing artist, Muneer lectures at the Institute of Visual Arts & Design of the Lahore College for Women University (LCWU), curates exhibitions and pursues Ms leading to Ph.D in studio practice at the University of Punjab. Finally,
Muneer trains children in miniature painting so that they carry on the ancient family tradition into the future.
Muneer considers himself a guardian of miniature painting tradition but he also finds inspiration in post-­‐ modernist philosophy and new techniques: computer graphics, digitally-­‐manipulated images, hyper-­‐realistic painting and collage. His experiments with enriching strict canons of miniature painting with contemporary techniques to convey 21   -­‐century messages are so brilliant that they gained him a place on the list of “Asia’s 10 Most-­‐Inspiring Visual Artists” according to the Top 10 of Asia magazine in 2014.

Tahira Noreen

I was born in a small village in Punjab, Pakistan. After receiving my Bachelors of Fine Arts in painting from National College of Arts, Lahore, I have been involved in various exhibitions, both locally and internationally. Concurrently, I am teaching fine Arts at Fatima Jinnah Women University. I have taken part in several workshops, seminars, talks, juries and gallery shows. I’ve curated several end of semester and thesis degree shows and supervised a number of students in their respective thesis projects.
I believe in an unstructured line of work that comes naturally from within. I eliminate the prerequisite of planning out a piece and go about working in a rather spontaneous manner. This is evident in the natural evolution of my linear lines that creates a harmonious flow.

Anam Rani

Anam Rani, a young emerging artist, raised in Faisalabad and Lahore.She graduated from National College of Arts, Lahore in 2015 with distinction.She has exhibited in group shows as well as solo shows.As an artist she exhibited in Lahore and Karachi.Her sculptures are in collection of famous art collectors and artists.
She mainly works as a sculptor and uses Resin which depicts the fragility and transparency of her sujbects.She, through her art comments on politics and social impact of image.How an image affects on a global or individual psychology.

Sachal Rizvi

To draw was a natural calling for me for as long as i can remember. I dont remember much but glimpses of drawing rhinoceros and dinosaurs still remain with me. Disney classics were a definite influence from childhood and still inspire me. At an early age I read Alice in Wonderland and it exploded my imagination. There was no looking back. Colours, shapes, environments and characters fused into one another. I imagined distant lands and people and drew them. My interest in drawing lead me to apply in Architectural Design degree at National College of Arts, Lahore.
New horizons opened in my art practice at NCA, Lahore and architectural understanding of space and place gave me the necessary skill, confidence and knowledge to express what I wanted to draw.
After graduating as an architect I worked as a Concept Artist and an Illustrator at a gaming house. I got interested in environment design and had been imagining and drawing environments since for animations, games and movies.

Mohsin Shaikh

My name is M. Mohsin Shaikh. I was born in Taxila on 26th November 1990. Due to my father’s designation I never could stuck to one school because of postings from city to city, so basically my firs school was Army Public Schoool Mangla Cantt. Then from city to city and school to school till my last graduation from National College of Arts Lahore. I majored in Painting but love other art fields as well, like I’ve been doing sculpture as well and once thought about majoring in it but there was something with more magnetism and that was painting. To be honest I have been in love with painting and drawing since the first memory that inspired me when I was of four years and some months old when I was given an assignment of drawing an apple on a chart paper as homework, My mom made that apple for me with color pencils and that red apple drawn by my Mom came out to be something very memorable and inspiring to me till now. Of course I ask myself that how can I even remember the memory when I was four years old, it’s there in my head. During the days of my college learning I used to be highly inspired from Leonardo Da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, Raphael and even my own teachers often, but I won’t honestly say that I have one inspiration, but in fact I have me inspired from many, to me since the time I came to know that there can’t be one inspiration, I widened my observation and came to know that my inspiration has been the reality of my life, my experience, my twists and turmoils, even a small rat or a pigeon taking off for a flight. During my college days I was really inspired by my seminar class taught by Quddus Mirza, it used to be a very well debated class where all the students would speak up their ideas and thoughts about art and more, where at times I learned some very broadminded knowledge from my teacher. My most favourite experience is that I can whole heartedly express whatever I need to on my work because I don’t have to please anyone as an artist but myself while working ( work satisfaction is very important to me). I feel like I don’t have to say Yes Sir or No Sir, it’s me and me alone with my work and my feelings. Plus there is no limit to your imagination, I do break lines and rules.

Saqiba Suleman

Saqiba Suleman was born in 1984 and raised in Hasilpur, Punjab. she completed her master’s degree in Fine arts from College of Art & Design, Punjab university in 2005 and earned gold medal. She has had 3 solo shows and numerous group shows in Pakistan, Dubai and London.
Her work is mostly oil and acrylic and canvas and her signature work consists of figurative poses with strong floral visual effects.

Annem Zaidi

Annem Zaidi graduated from National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan in 2011 with a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree. Since her graduation she has participated in various group shows across Pakistan and abroad including Vienna, Dubai and India. Zaidi has a special interest in painting fabric and is highly inspired by the painting techniques of the old masters.
She got married and moved to Dubai in 2014, where she pursued her Diploma in Early Years Education. She worked at a well renowned American nursery in Dubai as a lead teacher for some time. She highlights the importance of arts and crafts in a child’s holistic development and an enabling environment.