Solo show: When old meets new through art

London-based artist Samia Sam gives her work a tinge of modernism.

Mariam Shafqat March 31, 2017

LAHORE: A solo miniature show featuring the works of London-based Pakistani artist Samia Sam went on display at the Alhamra Art Gallery on Wednesday. The exhibition titled Transcending Visible Horizons will conclude on Friday (today).

In more than 80 pieces in mix media, the artist has presented a fusion of Mughal, Persian and the Middle Eastern art, while giving her work a tinge of modernism. Her seemingly ancient subjects can be spotted holding a mobile phone or using a laptop.

According to Samia, she is inspired by traditional styles of Indian and Persian miniature and blends these ancient forms with historical, cultural elements from primitive times to create a new vocabulary of her own.

“My research and ideas flow simultaneously and make up the fabric of my work,” the artist said, adding that she used gouache paints in rich colours to form layers and 22k gold leaves to form jewel like colours. The backgrounds in her paintings represent her influence from Muslim and the Middle Eastern culture.

For Samia, her characters are real as they act out contemporary situations and dilemmas, while also celebrating her womanhood, her abilities, strengths and dilemmas, she said. The artist added the work reflected her background and transition between the old and new world.

“Having grown up in the Middle East, educated in catholic schools and raised as a liberal woman, who now lives in Europe, I have always had to reflect upon the cultural boundaries zones in which I have lived,” she explained.

“In the transcultural United Kingdom, I feel a strong need to make art that will speak to my audience of our similarities, not our differences. I feel that I can contribute to a much needed repair through my art,” she said.

She wanted the audience to re-evaluate their notions and concepts about identity, adding misconceptions could lead to racism, hate or even war.

Punjab University Fine Arts Department’s former chairperson Rahat Naveed Masood said people see an interesting amalgamation of tradition and contemporary art in Samia’s refreshing work. She added it evokes many moods for the viewer.

The former chairperson said instead of simply relying on deer or peacocks images, the artist has playfully added modern day pets such as dogs, colourful macaws and cats with the main figures.

“Her extensive experience of working with the Saudi Royal family as an archivist advisor, which involved documentation and preservation of Arab’s heritage, seems to have whetted her appetite for the exploration of her latent talent in painting,” said Rahat.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2017.


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