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Faiza Khan

Pakistani Contemporary Artist
Born 1975, Abbottabad, Pakistan
Lives and works in Islamabad, Pakistan

Faiza Khan is leading name in the contemporary art scene of Pakistan. She has made her name as an artist, curator as well as an activist and her multi-faceted career spans around two decade. Her paintings are a response to her cultural milieu as they often deal with socio-political content. They also map intense human emotions.

Education

Post-Graduation in Studio Painting from Oklahoma University, USA

BA from University of Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan

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LIFE AND WORK

UNDERSTANDING Faiza Khan

An interest towards Abstraction

In most of her works Faiza Khan plays with the form and figures in a way that it creates an effect of abstraction. The way colour, form and space are dealt with in her work builds up a sense of abstraction in them, her deliberate rendering of form and space is an indicator to her interest towards abstraction. In her paintings she has worked through abstraction, where she has explored colour and texture and with that she has created an oeuvre that spells out an intrinsic interest towards space. In one of her works she created a swirling scene alike a reflection of trees and sky on water. But the work has a tendency towards abstraction where form gets intermingled with each other.

Faiza Khan, Untitled, 2014

The reflection of contemporary socio-political milieu

Art has always played an important tool to reflect or respond to the contemporary time and space. The works of Faiza Khan have a similar approach towards the contemporary socio-political milieu due to their introspective manner. The works are not the mirror of the situation but a space where the artist’s thoughts get amalgamated with that of the reality that the artist is living in. “My recent work is a manifestation of personal self, social-political activities and abomination faced by humanity. I see social political issues as segments of a whole, defined and redefined in layers and dimensions. I would never like to be the judge but penetrate at deeper levels to be a witness and a participant,” says Faiza Khan. This is evident in many of her paintings, one of them shows a tattered dress of a woman hung on a hanger with some hand marks here and there. She is able to approach a very pertinent fact of woman being objectified. One of the most distressing issue in present time is violence against women and how women fall prey to violence and a discrimination. The tattered dress is a symbol of the woman who is being mistreated and disrespected. Faiza Khan’s approach to this issue is subtle and yet makes for a strong commentary.

Faiza Khan, Untitled, 2014

The Figural Landscape

In the works of Faiza Khan there is a very interesting element of landscape even if it is a figural composition a kind of landscape can be seen formed. She subtly merges her figure with that of the space around it and creates an ambiguous symbolism. In her painting titled Conversation where two figures of a mother and a child are engaged in an activity where the child is playing and the mother looks after it. There is however no attempt made of depicting the figure with distinguishable features rather it gets submerged with the surrounding space and a kind of figural landscape gets created. It is also evident in the treatment of the forms that heightens this sense more.

Faiza Khan, 2012, from the series “Impalpable Ballads”, oil on canvas

A Visual treat of Vigorous Colours

One of most striking thing that comes up looking at Faiza Khan’s work is the usage of vigorous colours that in itself have an independent entity in the paintings. Her usage of colour is expressive in manner and helps the content to reveal more. The hues of blue, green, red and yellow majorly dominate the pictorial plane. Her series like “Impalpable Ballads”, “Molten Echoes”or “Shimmering Silence” show her interest towards the expressive quality of colour, how colour itself can speak about certain emotions, responses and sometimes the inexpressible too.

Faiza Khan, Untitled, 2011, oil on canvas, 57 x 29”

The Rhetorical presence of Woman

The works of Faiza Khan often conjures up with images of women. In contemporary world when the existence of woman have been questioned due to several such incidence taking place all around the world that not only puts the place of woman in the society in risk but also brings out the harsh and dark reality of the situation that we all are passing through. Faiza Khan in her own way reflects some issues as well as she also tries to bring out the importance, the creative aspect and beauty that is ascribed to the entity of woman as she says, “I am not interested in depicting the obvious that is often comprehended as reality. Reality in that sense does not represent how I understand the world. Instead I want to mingle inside out. I want to see animage as its collage, layer by layer, appearing, disappearing and maintaining the contrast that our lives carry at so many levels. These are my images, the reflections of my mind while playing with the fertile confusion with vision and without manipulation”. It is very interesting to see her painting creating another dialogue than just behaving like a mirror to the world, though the world is there within the oeuvre but in layers underlying the apparent image. Such as one of her recent works that is of portraits of different woman, possibly representing different aspect or different steps of life that these woman might belong. The faces the spaces are full of ambiguity they might not represent any specific person but they are someone whom we see or we are very familiar with. Such ambiguity is a way to comprehend certain underlying thoughts that denotes the real world.

Faiza Khan, Untitled, 2015

Bibliography