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Imran Channa

Pakistani Contemporary Artist
Born 1981, Shikarpur, Sindh, Pakistan
Lives and works in Lahore, Pakistan

Imran Channa is a visual artist from Pakistan whose works majorly boast of an exquisite attention to detail. Working with multiple mediums like painting, drawing, sculpture and interactive art, Channa experiments with colour in a peculiarly interesting manner by highlighting their contrast against plain white backgrounds. Few of his most famous works are inspired by the Badshahnama series in Mughal Miniatures.



MA (Hons.) Visual Arts, National College of Arts, Lahore


BFA, National College of Arts, Lahore


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His works in monochrome are meant to emphasize contrasts

The monochromatic works of Imran Channa are like a contrast between this or that. It makes the viewer think about and choose between them. It compels a choice to be made. It divides our thoughts and vision into two leaving a bare sort of truth for us to accept. There is no middle ground available for the thoughts of the viewer. It tells a story that we may be scared to accept. It hides a lot of thoughts in its simplicity and sobriety and does away with all the social rules and simplifies the world in the eyes of the viewer. The power in the monochrome lies in its merging and contrasting of shades and the blank spaces in between.

Imran Channa, Memories, graphite on paper, 27.5 x 39”

Blurriness functions as a mask concealing Channa's true intent

The blurriness in Channas work forms a mask over the paintings. They are like a curtain, hiding the actual view from the onlooker as if afraid of what may lie underneath. A slight image can always be made out from underneath the blurriness. In some works it is clearer than the others. It is left to the viewer’s imagination to interpret the unclear image. The images depicted also look like landscapes as seen from the inside of a moving car. Channa has also sometimes accompanied the blurriness in his works with a contrast, which is also blurred. The contrast in the other is always darker. Many of his blurred works are in monochrome of black and white but are not restricted to it.

Imran Channa, Memories 03, 2009, graphite on paper, 64.7 x 96.5 cm

Channa has a distinctive style of showing colours against a plain background

Channa has not really used colour in his painting but has used colour more with other medias like pigment inkjet on paper. He uses a wide variety of colour on plain background to give the picture all it needs. The plain background forms a contrast to the vivid colours it holds, which makes the work stand out even more. The colours seem to speak for themselves and also add a voice to the picture. Most of his colorful works are part of his series, which try to tell a story of time. He uses all possible colours as a collage, which falls perfectly on the paper. The wide range of colours depict all areas of life and how they can all come together to form such a beautiful piece. The use of colour is meant to accompany the theme of the work and carry the story forward from one painting to another.

Imran Channa, Badshahnama series IV, 2010, pigment inkjet on archival paper, 70 x 100 cm

Historical events and legends feature very often in his works

Channa's works have in the past dealt with different periods and times in history and he has used them for different purposes. He has dealt with Pakistan's historical past and that of the Moghuls. In dealing with Pakistan, Channa brought to the viewer's attention the rich culture and history that is embedded in the building of Pakistan. He explores the culture, traditions, heritage and icons which are not that prevalent and have been forgotten in today's time. Channa's work with 'Badshahnama', also known as The Book of Kings, seeks to challenge the telling of history to glorify the rulers and its authority and authenticity. He uses the images of lords in all their glory and life in those days and embeds them symbolically in a seamless and meaningless object that represents their value like an earring. Some of his works are accompanied with faceless figures, which again adds mystery and at the same time challenges it.

Imran Channa, Badshahnama series VIII, 2010, pigment inkjet on archival paper, 100 x 70 cm

Imran Channa, Tale of a Day, 2008, digital printed book, 11 x 16”

Deliberate attention to detailing

Channa's works are full of laborious detailing. The artist deliberately chooses to use such detailed images to tell his storiess. Even in his monochromes, behind the blurred veil of his paintings a detailed picture is being hidden. It is this quality in his paintings, along with other aspects that point towards a need to retain a fundamental base and at the same time create a fog of mystery and challenge the viewers' understanding capabilities. It also tells us of the artist's grounding in traditional art. Channa's creations seem to provide a base for the thoughts of the viewer to reflect on and grow from.

Imran Channa, Memories, graphite on paper, 40 x 28 cm