Art exhibition: Living in a bubble

‘Together Alone’ by Heraa Khan examines ‘delusional lifestyles far removed from reality’.

Sonia Malik December 05, 2012


Heraa Khan aims to capture “delusional lifestyles far removed from reality” in her latest works which went on display at Drawing Room Gallery here on Monday evening.

Titled ‘Together Alone’, the 21 pieces, all gousche on wasli, depict how women in urban high society in Pakistan have wrapped themselves in a cocoon from the ugly reality of the vast majority of Pakistanis.

Khan recently graduated from the National College of Arts, where she studied miniatures, and these latest works are an extension of the theme of her thesis, which was sold out when it went on display. Here too, the artist sold five of the 21 pieces, ranging in price from Rs15,000 to Rs45,000, within 30 minutes of the opening.

Khan said she had initially wanted to paint just women, but gradually developed a theme: elites ensconced in their own bubbles and cut off from the real world. The artist used a single image of an elderly woman, her 76-year-old grandmother, in the different pieces.

“My grandmother has been an important part of my life and I just decided to incorporate her face in each painting. She was initially uncomfortable with being an icon of superficiality, but she got the hang of it eventually,” Khan said, laughing.

Heraa Khan

Pink shoes – one of five paintings with a charcoal floral pattern – shows an elderly figure in light pink stilettos and a shimmering pearl necklace. These are the artist’s favorite works. “The dark colour [of the charcoal border] emanates negativity and the pattern represents the bubble within which a certain class is developing and becoming more delusional,” Khan said.

Another of the pieces features pencil sketches of women carrying multi-coloured bags posing for a photograph. “For these people, the sorts who pose in weekly supplements, the bags and the dresses determine the merits of a person, rather than who that person is or what they have done,” she said.

Imran Qureshi, who supervised Khan in her last two years at NCA, said the artist had developed since her thesis. “Her comfort level in experimenting within a theme has increased tremendously. She is way more daring now,” said Qureshi.

The exhibition will continue till December 10.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2012.


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