There is no shortage of talent in Pakistan and that is evidenced by its local art scene, which is now thriving. Here are 10 artists that are contributing to leveling up Pakistan’s art game by creating unique, beautiful pieces of art.
Annem Zaidi: She is a lahore based artist, who graduated with Bachelors of Fine Art(Painting) from the National College of Arts (NCA), Pakistan. She creates haunting yet entrancing negative space paintings. The fluidity of the white fabric draping the silhouettes in her paintings contrasts with the deep black background to create arresting images that are hard to look away from. Her paintings are stark in their simplicity, but it is precisely the uncluttered nature of her work that draws the eye in to appreciate the details of her paintings.
Mohsin Shaikh: Is a contemporary painter who also graduated from NCA. He is known for his massive oil on canvas paintings. His chalkboard series in particular is wonderful. One could spend hours going over a single one of his paintings in order to parse out all the messages embedded in it. His chalkboard paintings, with numerous things scribbled on them, are a commentary on how life itself is much like a chalkboard where we scribble in our experiences. He has previously on record stating that he meant this series to be illustrate how societal truths are lies, as everyone believes their version to be true to they must all be untrue.
Zoya Manan: This lahore based painter creates colorful, playful works of art. Her stylised use of colour transforms the characters in her paintings to vibrant, active people. Her work never feels flat and is a joy to look at.
Salman Toor: Born and raised in Lahore, and now based in New York City, Salman Toor is arguably one of the best known Pakistani painters in the international art scene. He draws inspiration from his own life and memories to create his work. The slightly hazy quality of his paintings, especially his now signature green ones, evoke a sense of tranquility and nostalgia. It truly feels as if you are catching brief glimpses of a fleeting memory. His work also explores the intersection between queerness and brown bodies.
Sana Saeed: She graduated from NCA as a visual artist and is lahore based. Sana Saeed’s paintings are quite clearly labours of love, for the amount of time it would take to render a painting in such exquisite detail would require a true love for the artfrom. Her paintings are beautiful, intimate portraits of everyday life.
Muhammad Hussain Chandio: He is a hyderabad based painter.He has worked as a lecturer at Centre of Excellence in Arts and Design(CEAD), Mehran University of Engineering & Technology, Jamshoro. He is best known for his subtly colourful paintings of Sindhi women. His work has a slight fantastical element to it, as the women in paintings while doing mundane tasks appear to be walking into a starry sky. They are lovely works of art.
Nirmal Sajid: She is not painter unlike the others on this list. But the craftsmanship of her work shows that she truly deserves the moniker of artist. Her handmade, embroidered pieces are stunning. She explores different topics through her work, like the 1947 partition. Her embroidered boxes depicting the trains that brought many families across the border are an interesting medium to explore such a topic.
Shabbir Baloch: He is a visual artist whose work is elevated by its singular focus on his subjects. The judicious use of primary colours concentrated solely on his subjects, whilst the rest of canvas stay muted draws the viewer’s eye exactly where he wants it to go. The subjects of his paintings are Balochi people, an oft overlooked and underrepresented segment of society.
Affan Baghpati: He is a visual artist based in Karachi. He collects old, unused and discarded domestic objects and recontextualizes them. His work focuses on interrogating changing tastes and aesthetics.
Shamsuddin: An artist with a great eye for presenting old subjects in a new way. His recent work creating mughal era style paintings in graphite and gold leaf is just one of his projects that freshens up an older artform.