Art historian and foremost scholar Dr. Akbar Naqvi
Art historian and foremost scholar Dr. Akbar Naqvi

ESSAY: Art historian Akbar Naqvi on Soraya Sikander (2012)

Once upon a time gardens flowered in carpets, and hand-written Koran manuscripts. Flowers, their stems and grapevines went into the Arabic script. When an ant fell on a page of an illuminated page of the Koran, it believed, according to Maulana Rum, that it was in a resplendent garden it had not seen before. Soraya graduated from Beaconhouse National University in 2008. Since then she has held group shows or exhibited singly all over the world, including Dubai and London. Flower painting has a long European and Muslim tradition. In America Georgia O’Keefe painted a famous flower in a very large size, because she was American and like American hamburger and ice cream, she went for monumentality. This coincided with her take on the flowering of the female reproductive aspect. Feminists liked to flaunt their body in Europe and America, at times imagining it as a feeding trough for animals. Soraya went to England’s Slade summer school and made installations and painted outdoors, scenes of London.

She is not a Feminist to the best of my knowledge and paints as what in Urdu is called ‘reaz’ as in music, constant practice of skills. Besides paintings, I also saw her installations, which she had done in London. Using wood, pipe, rope and foam she created what she, her fellow students and teachers called a Creature (anthropomorphic form). Neither fish nor fowl or even reptilian creature, it is a dead object which acquires life in its setting. It is active in several scenes. In one it makes inroad into a cluster of thick green leaves improved by the light of the sun (1). In the second snapshot, the Creature is ensconced in leaves which show dark depths beyond the surface where the sunlight plays (2). In the third scene, it peeps through a window like a peeping Tom. Soraya compared it to Romeo who climbed the balcony of Juliet. In all three, the Creature is searching and probing various aspects of romantic subjectivity (3) Obviously, the creature is the outcome of a deep fantasy rather than a product of conceptual idiocy. The oil painting of a view from a hotel window showing Regent’s Park and the Lords cricket ground beyond is yet again a playful fantasy (4) Working at the Slade Summer School, and not thinking of exhibiting them while she worked, her works acquired playful irresponsibility. The location of the place is not important because it does not exist in the photographed painting except as light, color, tone and forms. The sight and scene has been absorbed into the painting like a building at Battersea which is, once again, a part of London she owned. Soraya has erected the building with acrylic on paper with colorful and geometric building blocks painted in red, pink, blue, green and yellow (5). The famous Gothic building near King’s Cross and St. Pancras in London is in tones of yellow and appears to have been dreamed. It is Soraya’s St. Pancras rather than a hotel-cum-railway-station (6) reminding us of Soraya’s unintended comment of the nineteenth century craze for Gothic revival patronized by Ruskin in the late nineteenth century in England. The picture of the Tower Bridge with three domes in pink shows a dark sky and the Stygian Thames flowing unconcerned as it has done since time immemorial. Flowers may come again but when she has spent sometime with herself and her instinct to break new paths for herself.

– Akbar Naqvi is an art historian and art critic with a Ph.D. in English Literature from Liverpool University. He has written on Art and Architecture for Pakistani newspapers like The Sun, Dawn, and The Muslim for over twenty years. He is the author of a monograph on Shahid Sajjad, and wrote for the magazine Herald. Akbar Naqvi has taught the history of art at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in Karachi, for several years as well as lectured at the National College of Arts, Lahore. He read a paper entitled ‘Modern Pakistani Painting’ at the seminar of The Royal Asiatic Society and the centre of South Asian Studies (SOAS), University of London, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the independence of India and Pakistan. Akbar Naqvi conducted a seminar on Modern Pakistani Art upon invitation from the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University. He is also the author of Image and Identity: 50 years of Painting and Sculpture in Pakistan 1947-1997, the first scholarly investigation of the history and development of modern and contemporary art in the sub-continent, as well as Pakistan: The Making of Art, a book for secondary school children. Akbar Naqvi’s books are also represented by Barnes and Noble, Waterstones, OUP (UK), Borders, Abe Books, Mary Martin books, Berkelouw, Paramount, amazon, and leading publishers across U.S, U.K, Australia etc.

Professor Gerda Roper writes on Soraya Sikander
Professor Gerda Roper writes on Soraya Sikander

ESSAY: Professor Gerda Roper on Soraya Sikander (2012)

I have known Soraya for many years through family connections with Karachi through my son and his father.  Soraya is an emerging artist, whose energy and spirit finds voice in an eclectic range of practices, but all with a single mission to release the spirit or sense of what she perceives. The vitality of her work resonates through both the speed of her delivery (which involves her immediate reaction to an object) and this very swiftness captures the essence of her subject.  This leaves no time for embroidery or ornamentation for Soraya Sikander’s rigorous appraisal delivers both truth and metaphor. The wonderful painter Winifred Nicholson wrote that she liked painting flowers  saying “I like painting flowers – I have tried to paint many things in many different ways, but my paint brush always gives a tremor of pleasure when I let it paint a flower – and I think I know why this is so.”

“Flowers mean different things to different people – to some they are trophies to decorate their dwellings (for this plastic flowers will do as well as real ones) – to some they are buttonholes for their conceit – to botanists they are species and tabulated categories – to bees of course they are honey – to me they are the secret of the cosmos.”

“Flower hues change and glow and fade and are gone dead like dead leaves, gone but everlasting like the blossoms that Persephone gathered in spite of Pluto, black king of the underworld. High, low, far away, near at hand – what more fundamental opposites can be found – ‘Tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes’ – of course it does, for what greater enjoyment than to turn common air into perfume, light into rainbows and the irreconcilable opposites into neighbourliness of brush strokes”.

When one looks at Soraya Sikander’s work, one feels too that one might be experiencing the secrets of the cosmos. Soraya’s mixed media work has an elegant sense of rhythm and pattern reminiscent of Persian and Indian miniatures, these offer us the opportunity to pleasure in the harmonies of the visual. There is a sense in the work of this young artist that she is most certainly mastering her media, whilst simultaneously furthering the infrastructure on which to continue to develop as an artist. Here is a young artist whose joy in experiencing the world informs her vision and who promises much. I believe Soraya Sikander is well on her way to further artistic success and wish her well in her exhibition in Karachi.

– Professor Gerda Roper Dean School of Arts and Media, University of Teesside. Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. MFA University of Reading (Research Scholarship). BA (Hons) Fine Art Exeter College of Art and Design. Formerly Assistant Dean for Research, School of Arts and Social Sciences, Northumbria University. Head of School of Art, Northumbria University. Head of Fine Art, Northumbria University. Head of Painting, Sunderland University. Practicing Painter since graduation, work in both Public and Private Collections, formerly Art Critic for Western Mail (Wales’s Major Daily Newspaper)

Art critic/Author Juliet Highet writes on Soraya Sikander
Art critic/Author Juliet Highet writes on Soraya Sikander

ESSAY: ‘An Artist’s Journey’ Juliet Highet on Soraya Sikander (2012)

Some contemporary artists produce abstract art; others paint empty sunlit swimming pools; yet others comment on human concerns, whether political, social or personal. Interestingly, the last, more conceptual sector tends to be the province of artists of ‘Southern’ origin – African, Arab, South Asian and so on. Most interestingly, the work of one woman artist, Soraya Sikander, of Pakistani-Indian background, has morphed from politically active and socially conscious to floral still-life, the reverse of most artists’ trajectories, as they progress in their careers.

Her newer paintings are inspired by London’s modern architecture, while recent sculptures were created from pieces of wood wrapped in pipes, mesh and foam. We witness a transition in concept and form. In the three years since Sikander started exhibiting her work, she has explored quite a raft of themes. Initially it was social commentary, reflecting her concern with the ‘War on Terror’ in Pakistan and the effect of global recession. Her first exhibition, in 2009 at the Unicorn Gallery in Karachi, was as part of a group collectively titled Recession. “It’s a pertinent issue that has affected everyone universally in some way or another from 2008 onwards,” she said. “It’s a crisis quite unlike any other in history and is going to significantly alter the way we live for a long time to come. I felt the need to document this crisis on canvas, tracing its roots back to the founder of Capitalist thought, Adam Smith. This gave birth to my first series, Recession.” As one commentator evocatively put it, she and the six other Pakistani artists in the show were “blown by a gale of furious purpose to put paint to canvas to tell their story of how they saw the effects of the Recession”. Sikander chose to depict the gradual erosion of the progenitor of Capitalism, Adam Smith, in a series of portraits of him regressing from patriarchal solidity to an empty skull. Pressing the theme of confronting consumerism and its obsolescence, some of her pieces have recycled rubbish into art.

Again in 2009, Sikander initiated a project she calls Flowers for Peace, and perhaps this is a key to understanding how she could apparently move from art as a force of change to what would appear to be botanical optimism. Judge for yourself. She comments: “Floral imagery was painted to produce peace during the on-going war with terrorism in Pakistan… I will create imagery of flowers until peace is declared.” The first of two exhibitions on this theme, called Floral Symphony, depicted roses, lilies, carnations and hydrangeas. Sikander continues: “Mother Nature cannot be captured (in an image) entirely without being over whelmed; therefore, humbly, I break down the beauty, bit by bit, piece by piece. So we admire a solitary rose, a leaf, a tree beaming with sunlight, part of the vast grandeur of eternal nature.”  Unsurprisingly, in 2010, this attractive antidote to violence sold well. Yet Sikander had not quite abandoned her inclination to challenge stereotypes, though with sardonic humour in the case of her 2011 show in London of miniatures titled Exotica from the Land of the Jungles. She takes on the idealisation of life in tropical rain-forests depicted by Rudyard Kipling in his Jungle Book, and the tendency to romanticise “The Other” of the Orientalists, who were Western painters, and like Kipling, lived in the Victorian imperialist era. The imagery of Sikander’s miniatures is of ‘exotic’ creatures like flamingos and zebras (perhaps even more ‘exotic’ because of course they are not to be found in ‘jungles’). She says: “I’ve always wanted to give a face to the patronising accounts of the Sub-continent – the land where wild animals run freely and young boys climb trees. Since it’s my heritage in question, I wanted to respond adequately by telling the story as I know it.”

Another theme in Sikander’s portfolio of imagery is mythology, which in her choice of origins, is eclectic. She had a cosmopolitan upbringing, travelling widely as a child, living in England, and the UAE, Hong Kong and Singapore. And although she says: “I like to depict every civilisation, to give historical events an art face,” yet it seems that the Sub-continent has impinged most deeply as a source of inspiration. “My influence has been South Asian art, including Mughal and Jain miniatures, Ajanta murals, Ellora sculptures and classical Persian art.” In 2011 Sikander showed a series of pen and ink work in London titled Love Sonnets of Mir. Mir Taqi Mir was an 18th century Urdu poet of the Delhi ghazal group. The next year, 2012, she participated in a two-month intensive summer school programme offered by the Slade School of Art, part of University College, London, which focused on the theme of religious mythology, reinterpreting them in contemporary form, some inspired by the Hindu god Ganesh, which was exhibited afterwards. Her immersion in urban London life this year stimulated a series of cityscapes, which are part of the forthcoming solo Karachi show she has titled In, At & Around, Visual Experiences of Memory & Travel. The sculptures she also produced in London are a new departure and were installed in a variety of settings, such as one titled Peeping Tom looking into a window.

Soraya Sikander has already packed a whirlwind of arts education and subsequent creativity into her young life. This dynamic drive began at school where she showed promise in fine art, which led her to studying with various professional artists. Then she enrolled for a foundation course at the Indus Valley School of Art & Architecture, Karachi; followed by an arts degree from Beaconhouse National University in Lahore. During this intensive educational immersion, various styles were emerging, and her command of different media expanded too. She works with oils, charcoal, gouache and watercolours, but was also inspired by Japanese woodblocks to produce drawings in ink on paper. She has dipped into photography, video installations, performance art and now sculpture. In 2011 she attended a course at the Print Studio in London, developing silkscreen prints.

In 2009 Sikander exhibited at the National Gallery of Bangladesh at Dhaka, work primarily characterised by Cubism – elongated, stretched human figures to illustrate a theme of degeneration, followed by regeneration, apparently symbolising the rollercoaster of human progress or lack of it, in abstract fashion. But Sikander abandoned this Cubist style, declaring it: “Stark! Without an iota of hope or illusion.” Sikander’s work and studio practice now syncopates from Karachi to Dubai to London, and exhibitions have been held in Delhi, Singapore and Toronto. What a blessing for Sikander to have a mother like Seemah Niaz, who set up Unicorn Gallery in Karachi in 2004, promoting the work of contemporary Pakistani artists. Daughter Sikander is now part-owner of Unicorn, Karachi and curator of Unicorn Space in Dubai. She pays full credit to her mother’s innovative, entrepreneurial efforts. “She always breaks barriers, raising the bar higher – she thought that Dubai would be a great platform for international art,” including Sub-continental, of course. So Sikander has always been exceptionally privileged as an artist to have guaranteed exhibition outlets, which is where we come full circle to the new show at Unicorn, Karachi. Her work is summed up best in one word – cutting-edge.

– Juliet Highet is a photographer, writer and editor, whose work has taken her to forty-six countries. After training as a photographer, she lived for many years in East and West Africa and India. While in Nigeria, she covered both the Civil War and the contemporary arts of that country. Since her return to the United Kingdom, she has divided her time between editing magazines and books, and promoting the cultures of Global Southern countries – particularly – African, Arabian and Asian. She has a special interest in their philosophical dimensions. A mother of two, she has practised meditational Siddha Yoga for twenty-eight years. Juliet has written extensively on travel, the arts, perfumery and complementary health. Her work has been published in Cosmopolitan, She, Woman’s Journal, Honeymoon & Romantic Travel, Wedding Venues, Ritz, High Flyer, Oasis and The Traveller; inflight magazines for Emirates, Gulf Air, Brunei Air, Royal Jordanian, Saudia and Kuwait Air; and in The Middle East magazine, Arab British Commerce, Zameen and Libas International etc.  Her professional work and her life experience both prompt her and qualify her to explore the complex interplay of spirit and worldly life in the allusive world of scent. Juliet has contributed articles with photographs to journals which include: Condé Nast Traveller, London Portrait, The Scotsman, Emirates, Gulf Air and Kuwait Air in-flights, Business Traveller, The Traveller, Asian Art Newspaper, Middle East, New African, Apollo, Asian Art Newspaper, Vogue, Illustrated London News, as well as numerous other in-flights, travel, lifestyle, hotel, women’s and arts publications. Juliet Highet is Consultant Editor for The British Council for a magazine for their Connecting Futures programme, Consultant Editor of Asia Duty Free, Travel Editor of Chic, Arts Editor of Hia (Arab women’s magazine). Her Foreign assignments (writing and photography) include The Nigerian Civil War, filing for Newsweek and Associated Press. Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) attached to the Tanzanian government, producing a magazine, exhibitions and running a photographic library. Books Published: Frankincense: Oman’s Gift to the World published Autumn ‘06 (my photographs and text) ISBN 3-7913-3695-9. Now sold out.

Art critic/Author Marjorie Husain writes on Soraya Sikander
Art critic/Author Marjorie Husain writes on Soraya Sikander

ESSAY: ‘Global impressions’ by renowned art critic Marjorie Husain on the art of Soraya Sikander (2012)

Soraya Sikander is an aspiring young artist, well known in Karachi not only for her art, but also for the active involvement in the myriad art programmes and exhibitions arranged at the family run Unicorn Gallery, Karachi. With an extensive experience of art study to her credit, Soraya enjoys recording her views and opinions of the world around her. Her interesting background of art study includes one year in Karachi spent at the at the IVSAA, before obtaining admission at the Beaconhouse University, Lahore in 2005. After Graduating in 2008, she began to participate in group shows at the Unicorn Gallery as well as London, Dubai, Bangladesh and Singapore.

In London she made sculptural installations at the Slade Summer School. In the current solo exhibition of her work, the artist exhibits some of her global impressions, and one is aware that the work of an, as yet, youthful artist at the start of her career is freely variable with a fresh handling of space and textural aspects. Discovering the diverse, imposing architecture of London in 2012, the artist carried a sketch book around with her in which she would capture outlines of her surroundings. These impressions were taken back to her studio and developed into paintings that appeared to examine an inner perception that resolved the work. Examining the artist’s language of colour and architecture inspired by capital cities she has lived and studied in, one finds there are no inhabitants to distract from the structural focus of tall, dominating buildings.

The bright colouration of these paintings, interestingly suggest the artist’s intention to dispel the sense of alienation that might have emerged from the unfamiliar grandeur of the scene. Also included in the exhibition are paintings of abstract floral designs. The linear importance of the overall effect installs discipline into the freely painted, bright spaces. Soraya is an artist who is obviously enjoying the experience of experimentation with diverse media including oil on canvas, acrylic on paper, charcoal and gouache of paper. Much of her work appears to project a fascination with man’s restructuring of the landscape on various levels. Her deep interest in third dimensional objects has resulted in the emergence of several contemporary pieces, created with varied objects. These artworks are described with brevity of form and one suspects, the beginning of a new and broader way of working on explicit themes.

– Marjorie Husain is a Karachi based art critic and author. She has curated exhibitions in the UK, Germany, India as well as Pakistan. The author has written biographies of many important artists in Pakistan, including: Anna Molka Ahmed, Ali Imam, Ahmed Parvez, Bashir Mirza, Iqbal Hussain and Colin David. She has the unique distinction of preparing Pakistan’s first art education text book: ‘Aspects of Art’. She has also documented the development of art in Karachi OUP title: ‘Karachi, megacity’. In her book ‘Art Views’, she has touched upon the trail of art transformation and development in pre-and post-partition Pakistan, which touches upon the work of icons such as Chughtai, Allah Bux, Zubeida Agha, Sadequain, A.R.Nagori, Gulgee and artists of the current generation. Marjorie was also the recipient of the Fatima Jinnah Award for services to art in 2004.

ESSAY: Soraya Sikander is the difference – by Mohsin Jaffri (2012)

Art critic Mohsin Jaffri writes on Soraya Sikander
Art critic Mohsin Jaffri writes on Soraya Sikander

An artist ought to be different in his or her approach to creating moods of colours and images on canvas to be recognised and given a place in the line-up of known artists. Being different means taking a different approach to defining oneself when creative urges come into play in the mixing of colours, drawing lines and creating shapes. This augurs well for the flow of the artist’s thoughts. It is in this sense that Soraya Sikander is carving out a different path to travel forward in the world of art. Soraya is young but what she produces on canvas is certainly a result of mature interpretation of feelings, a stage where art begins to take shape, adopt colours and give meaning to lines.

I have been looking at her art for some time now and I am aware of the changes that have taken place in her approach and technique. Not long ago, I noticed the maturity when I started analysing various aspects of her art. The journey is simple but at the same time the phases that she has gone through require interpretations. The start with “flowers in their different moods” to figures of abstract reflections to another realm of “hide and seek,” figures hiding within lines, waiting to be discovered. This in itself reflects the diversity of the artist’s ability to understand and implement new thoughts and present them on canvas, creating an identity for the self.

She is not hesitant in trying different approaches to get command of the various mediums she uses. The elements of her art reflect confidence when she is moving from one plane to another. Whether working with ink on paper or in mixed media or oil on canvas, her hold remains steady, her confidence improving with each step and understanding of art’s environment supporting her all the way. The most interesting area of Soraya’s work is her paintings based on mythological figures and fanciful fictions. She is very much at ease when attempting images from folklore and the history of the subcontinent because of her family’s Indian heritage and the immense passion that she has for experiencing an environment full of mystique. Her approach to mythology, belonging to one religion or another is to go deep into the mystery and try to understand the characters and their role.

Recently she has been invited by the Slade Summer School UCL, to participate in their ten week course where she will working in various mediums and at the same time will have the opportunity to exhibit her work (at the end), before British audience. She has explored the mythologies of various religions and cultures. The most famous among them are Chinese, Greek and Roman Mythologies. No doubt, the best and most widely read is India’s religious mythology, which is fascinating to read. Soraya has developed a special understanding of some of these and has worked on the “Ganesha” theme and its boundaries. It is this area that she will be exploring further to take it to the level of excellence. It is of great significance that a school of that stature will guide Soraya in her passion.

Soraya has not kept away from art-exhibit activities. In fact, she has made use of every opportunity to show her work to art the community. She has received the admiration of the members of that community because of what she is capable of. In the last three years, she has come out with a number of group exhibitions and a couple of solo shows, and some private showings of her work, claiming her place on the emerging artists’ platform.

A number of English and Urdu newspapers have published articles, reviews of her work. She is a shining example as an emerging artist in the realm of art culture.

In the area of professional education Soraya has studied at Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, and on top of it she has had internship at the Print Club in London. Soraya will be leaving for the UK in a few weeks’ time to join UCL’s Slade School of Fine Art. This is a great opportunity for a young and talented artist to experience a completely different and more sophisticated art environment. My best wishes are for her better future.

– Mohsin Jafri is an impassioned writer, a prolific thinker and a seasoned artist, Mohsin Jafri gives voice to his innermost thoughts by expressing his views freely on paper and canvas as he successfully dabbles into art, literature and journalism. His musings are a powerful reflection of the liberal within him who defies convention and is unafraid to question the norm. Art remains his steady refuge from the shackles of social ignorance, hypocrisy and intolerance as he retreats into a self-created world that resonates deeply with his soul. A world that is free from oppression and chaos where lovers unite and dreams come true. Born in India, brought up in Karachi, Jaffri was in his early twenties when he set out to pursue his studies in Social Sciences from England, where he spent nearly thirty-two years of his life. Having spent a major chunk of his life in England, Jaffri’s outlook on society, religion and culture is refreshingly unorthodox and vastly different from his peers – something he attributes to his interactions in the west with people from a large variety of backgrounds and cultures.

Besides his interest in art, he also has a deep appreciation for poetry and social issues. He has written extensively on economic, social and cultural issues. He is the author of four books, ‘The Other Half: Discrimination against Women’,’Sang-e-Geran Aur’, a collection of Urdu poems (in free verse), and ‘Time and Love’, a collection of his English poems. His recent book ready to be launched soon is an artist’s biography, ‘Defining Moments: Nusratji’s Art Odyssey’. How images could be real yet distorted fascinated me. However, what started as a casual interest in art slowly developed into a deep passion and became a life-long appreciation. He is also involved in producing and directing documentaries on various sensitive issues, His two documentaries ‘Murder of Mystic ‘and ‘Child Stars of the Streets’ was very much appreciated in the western media.

Presently, he is serving in a senior capacity, with a reputable English newspaper published simultaneously from Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and the UK.

ESSAY: Soraya Sikander and ‘The urban skyline’ by M.S. Kureshi (2012)

Art critic M.S. Kureshi writes on Soraya Sikander
Art critic M.S. Kureshi writes on Soraya Sikander

Driven hard by the craving for extraordinary visual experiences, Soraya Sikander has once again embarked on a spree to unearth the secrets that the dynamically unstable environment harbors. Soraya lends a pristine meaning to the bustling urban commotion by articulating her perception through a pertinent spectrum of pigments. She is also equipped with the knack for judiciously incorporating glimpses of her vivid memory from the excursions to foreign dominions that she frequents. The fusion thus created gives the artworks a unique character that boasts absolute individuality.

In the wake of mounting urbanization compounded by multiculturalism, the milieu is becoming increasingly akin to the melting pot of ruthless wrongdoing. Sensing the raging magma that squirms under the crust of the ostensible urban tranquility, Soraya intends to address the prevalent social and ecological issues through her installations, paintings and drawings. To make a resounding statement against heedless littering she resorts to transforming waste and rubbish into artifacts of value. She considers the reuse of waste a necessity in the growing trend of consumerism and take-aways. Dwindling resources are likely to run out if awareness to recycling is not infused forthwith to prevent the breach of ecology and continual loss of material.

The artist expresses her concern for estrangement and disaffection amidst the heightened material race that undermines the principles of solidarity and community ethics. Her immediate message is to remain cognizant of the illusive signs and avoid futile entrapment in the vortex of insipid wants and aimlessness. Ethnic differences, growing fault lines and morbid power games continue to fuel the ferocious storm that could instantly crumble the vulnerable fabric of nationalism. Soraya stresses the necessity to pay heed to these anomalies and inculcate compassion and tolerance for the survival of cultural identity.

Essentially an inquisitive wanderer, Soraya bears a compelling fetish for indulging into the urban trivialities and banal activities which normally would escape attention. Consequently, with her incessant travails, Soraya confronts the mundane with her inner eye for an interpretation that transforms the subjects into substantive and engrossing chronicles. The arresting nature of the drawings is attributable to the discernible folklore and tradition embedded within.  Being a strong proponent of promoting cultural identity, Soraya adopts a delicate approach through generously improvised form and commensurate color to tacitly state the adverse consequence of prejudice, non-coherence and distancing.

The indiscriminate frenzy that haunts the urban dwellers is what she depicts in the form of unusual beasts and bizarre creatures that rush to selfishly outpace each other. She also insists on maintaining an obdurate stance when it comes to gender identity which she amply manifests in her artworks through subjective experience and a private sense of being.

Intrinsically inclined to utilize organically sensitive lines and a prudent palette, Soraya beckons the viewers to pause momentarily and look inwards to experience the subtle reflections. She believes that a tacit confession may redeem a spirit from the captivity of penitence!

– M. S. Kureshi is an alumnus of the Fine Arts Department of the Punjab University. He has had the privilege of being coached in drawing and painting by legends such as Anna Molka Ahmed, Zulqarnain Haider, Collin David & Bashir Mirza. He has participated in various exhibitions and his paintings are displayed in public places and are held in private collections. He has made major contribution in the initial design and setup of the Pakistan Maritime Museum as a member of the Museum Design Team.  He writes regularly for the Dawn Newspaper on Art and undertakes Interviews of painters and celebrities.  Saeed Kureshi has held the rank of Rear Admiral in the Pakistan Navy and was awarded Sitar-e-Imtiaz for meritorious services. He has done Bachelors of Fine Arts Part I & II from Punjab University, BE (Mechanical) and BSc (Hons) in War Studies from the University of Karachi, MSc Strategic Studies from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, and Aero Engineering Application from the Royal Navy Engineering College, UK.

KHALEEJ TIMES ‘Soraya Sikander: At One with Nature’ (2011)

GULF: ‘Question of peace, answer of art’ (2011)

Soraya Sikander work reviewed by The Gulf Today
Soraya Sikander work reviewed by The Gulf Today

Business Recorder: Soraya Sikander and ‘The urban skyline’ by M.S. Kureshi (2010)

Seeking solace in colours if spring, Soraya Sikander solo debut
Seeking solace in colours if spring, Soraya Sikander solo debut

Daily Times: ‘Celebrating nature not terrorism’ (2010)

celebrating nature review in daily times
celebrating nature review in daily times

Financial Times & The Leader (2010)

Dawn: Interpreting the Recession (2010)

Soraya Sikander debut exhibition 'Recession' reviewed by Dawn Gallery
Soraya Sikander debut exhibition ‘Recession’ reviewed by Dawn Gallery