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  • Mapping Journeys by Sabah Husain
  • Sabah Husain’s art practice takes shape within a diverse sphere of media, process and iconography. A lengthy tenure of intense training in painting and printmaking conditioned much of her pictorial predilection. Husain’s Masters of Fine Arts from Kyoto University of Fine Arts and Music including a study of language and paper making contributes an additional perspective for the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree she completed at the National College of Arts in Lahore. Throughout her career, one that spans twenty-five years, and in the present series as well, Japanese aesthetic informs South Asian artistic and cultural modes. Inspired by Urdu and Persian poetry particularly that of Ghalib and Faiz as well as the modernist poetry of Noon Meem Rashid, as in the present exhibition, Husain’s expression reveals itself in both realistic imagery and in abstraction. Prints, handmade paper, paint, mixed media, photography, digital media and installation carry the narrative.

    The MAPPING JOURNEYS encompasses Sabah Husain’s geographicallyexpansive and deeply thought philosophical journey. In the realm of aesthetics the manuscript traverses from Pakistan to Japan and in narrative from classical Urdu and Persian verse to that of Noon Meem Rashid and his epic poem Hasan Koozagar. The paintings in the Baghdad Series reflect Husain’s intimacy with Islamic manuscripts. Gold or silver rectangles break up the pictorial space to form a composition reminiscent of the leaf from calligraphic manuscripts and miniature paintings. Stanzas and words in Urdu and Persian, repeating key lines from Rashid’s poem are penned in strategic locations within the work. But the handmade paper, a laborious skill Husain learned during years in Japan, and the sumi strokes of black ink that sweep across the surface bring another dimension to her painting. These are truly multi-media works of art that incorporate printmaking, calligraphy, handmade paper, painting and sumi ink.

    The complex content in Hasan Koozagar that shifts from the potter Hasan’s ancient past to recent times, underscores the presentation of Husain’s material. The poem is a monologue. It celebrates and elevates the role of individual experience and creativity against the ideological imperative. It narrates Hasan’s journey from the banks of the river Tigris in Bagdad and his transformation. The paper boat series delineates the journeys .Some paintings are lyrical recalling Husain’s training in classical Indo-Persian music and dance. Others seem to breathe the essence of Japanese Zen. These are earthy and deceivingly spontaneous with brush strokes that are expressive and liberating. There is no doubt that Sabah Husain’s recent multi-media paintings are elegant and unique. Her inclusion of three-dimensional objects and installation “Folios from the Baghdad Manuscripts“ connect her oeuvre to the present, reflecting on the destruction of a thousand years old civilization, in Syria and Bagdad.


    Dr. Marcella Sirhandi
    Professor Emerita
    Oklahoma State University

  • Periodicals & Texts
  • 2015- Amra Ali "Poetics of Memory"Dawn August 2015
  • 2015- Osama Khalid "Poetics of Memory"Art Now,Contemporary Art of Pakistan 2015
  • 2015- Marcella Sirhandi "Mystic river"Herald.March 27th 2015
  • 2015- Reza Rumi " Journey to change" The Friday Times.January 30th 2015
  • 2012- Asim Akthar "Journey and arrival" The Friday Times,June 29th 2012
  • 2012- Saman Shamsie "Poetry Meets Art" Newsline. 12 June 2012
  • 2012- Salwat Ali "Digital Transitions",Dawn May 27th,2012
  • 2007- Yousaf Ilona – Alhamra literary review. “Interview with an artist: Saba Husain” Issue 2 – Spring
  • 2003- Ali Salwat “If Music Be The Food of Love” Dawn Gallery. Oct 25th 2003
  • 2001- National Art Collections Fund website - online database. The online database includes 'Zard Paton Ka Ban'. Collection Bradford Museum. Website - www.art-fund.org.
  • 1995- Arts and the Islamic World, p.102.1994
  • 1995- Mitter Partha – “The Right Note” The Herald, September 1995. Volume 26
  • 1994- Pakistan: 50 years. An Art Retrospective. CD-ROM by ABN-AMRO Bank.
  • 1994- Printmaking Today, p.12. A quarterly journal of contemporary international printmaking
  • 1991- Balchin Cassandra – “The Japanese Touch” The Herald, April 1991. Volume 22
  • 1991- The Art Quarterly of the National Art Collections Fund, by Marina Vaizey and Norbert Lynton, p.18.
  • 1987- Shibao Tomoko – “Interview with Sabah Husain” Unesco Magazine, Japan. No.178,1987.6.15
  • Books & Catalogues
  • Ali Salwat – Journeys of the Spirit: Pakistan Art in the New Millennium. 2008
  • Hashmi Salima – Unveiling the Visible, Lives and Works of women artists of Pakistan. 2002
  • Mitter Partha – Indian Art (Oxford History of Art). 2001
  • Wilcox Timothy, editor, “Pakistan Another Vision, Fifty Years of Painting and Sculpture from Pakistan”. Catalogue – Published on the occasion of the exhibition, “Pakistan Another Vision” Brunei Gallery, School of Oriental and African Studies, London England – 12th April 2000
  • Naqvi Akbar- Image and Identity. Fifty Years of Painting and Scculpture in Pakistan. 1998
  • Nima Poovaya-Smith, and Hashmi Salima. An Intelligent Rebellion: Women Artists of Pakistan. Exhibition Catalogue. Bradford, England: City of Bradford Metropolitan Council 1996.
  • Sirhandi Marcella. A Selection of Contemporary Paintings from Pakistan. Exhibition Catalogue. Pasadena, California: Pacific Asia Museum. 1994