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Art mart: The personal is political

Art mart: The personal is political

Traditionally, the miniature painting has been confined only to record or illustrate royal life and activities. The early period of the miniature department at the National College of Arts (NCA) also revolved around the conventional style; however, Shahzia Sikandar, Fasihullah and Talha Rathor laid the foundation for contemporary value in this genre during the last decade of the 20th century. Later, with the advent of the 21st century, Imran Qureshi first established himself as a modern miniature artist, and his presence at the department as a teacher influenced many novices to follow this colourful and skilful painting style for a variety of idiosyncratic subjects.

Both Ayesha Durrani and Attiya Shaukat have been trained at the NCA during the early years of the new millennium. They graduated in 2003 and 2004 respectively, the years when the modern trends in miniature art were prevailing with more possibilities of themes and subject matter. Since their graduation, they have been exhibiting nationally and internationally to sustain themselves as the emerging talent of contemporary miniature art in Pakistan. Recently, Durrani and Shaukat had a two-person show at the Unicorn Gallery, Lahore.

Durrani focuses on using her art for social awareness as her main theme revolves around the deprivations and discrimination that women have to face in our society. The intricacy and minimalist nature of miniatures seem to help her in depicting the complications, prejudices and dogmatic approach often extended towards the ideals of feminism.

The artist addresses the fear of change, the self-assumed hurdles in moving forward in time and the urge to complete the ‘unfinished circle’ of life as a psychological compromise that caused one to become stagnant. She also has the view of breaking the set standards and social obstacles that deprive the woman of thinking ahead of the accepted cultural values coming out of the standard comfort zones. Her images appear as a narrative of the unspoken, unrealised and unattended socio-psychological issues.

Shaukat, on the other hand, considers art as a personal reference of life and a career of her body and soul. She has been wheelchair bound for almost 13 years. After falling from a height of eight feet, just before presenting her final thesis for graduation, she underwent surgery for a severe backbone injury that paralysed her lower body.

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