Aisha Khalid

Change of Course | New York, Rockefeller Plaza | watercolor on wasli | 47.3 x 33.6 cm

“Pattern plays its part in Khalid's use of camouflage by hinting at the hypocrisy within an orthodox use of repetition, one legitimized by a popular concept of tradition which refuses historical change.”

V. Whiles, art writer

“Tradition doesn’t mean that things are frozen,” Aisha Khalid has said. “It develops with the time and it’s part of the culture, religion.” Employing the traditional, repetitive decorative patterns and textures of her native Pakistan, Khalid weaves complex physical and psychological tapestries that deploy tradition as a means of deep critique. Using classic Islamic motifs and working within the strict boundaries circumscribed by Islamic art (Islamic art does not, for example, allow depictions of faces) her work explores contemporary conventions on gender, oppression and post-9/11 geo-politics. Her inquiries are subtle and coded; they are also meditative, inviting close reads. “As an artist, I feel it is my responsibility to say something, not just for my own country but in Iraq, in Afghanistan, what’s in Palestine, everywhere,” she has said. “I think it’s every person’s responsibility to say something, as a journalist as a poet, as an artist.”

In recent years, Khalid has risen to become one of Pakistan’s most celebrated contemporary artists. She studied at the Rijksakademie, in Amsterdam, and attended the National College of Arts, in Lahore, where she studied miniature painting alongside several other young artists of the “neo-miniature” movement. Her paintings and installations often incorporate woven and stitched materials, referencing the curtains and veils the separate and define people, literally and figuratively.

Since 2000, her work has appeared in solo shows in London, Calcutta and Manchester, and in group shows at galleries and museums in New York, Berlin, Vienna, San Francisco, Lahore and Brisbane. Her work  Kashmiri Shawl gained attention at the Sharjah Biennial, a giant pashmina scarf pierced with gold-studded spikes. In 2005-2006, she and several other graduates of the National College of Arts program exhibited their work at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, in Ridgefield, Conn., as part of “Karkhana: A Contemporary Collaboration,” a groundbreaking exhibition of works by contemporary Pakistani artists from the neo-miniature school.  

Khalid was born in Faisalabad, Pakistan. In 2010 she was awarded the “Birgit Skiold Memorial Trust Award of Excellence” at the London Artists Book Fair, and in 2012 she was named by Newsweek magazine as one of the “100 most powerful women in Pakistan.” She lives and works in Lahore.

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Works by Aisha Khalid

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