LAHORE: A solo exhibition of drawings titled, Contested Cartography, by Dubai-based artist Saba Qizilbash is happening at the Gurmani Centre for Language and Literature of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). The works, a source of immense joy for the visual art lovers, will remain on display till March 20.

Saba’s large-scale thought-provoking works are a complex spatial engagement with history and human movement. They are like portals to journeys, real as well as imagined, which offer viewers an opportunity to immerse themselves in the expanse of territories, at times familiar landscapes and spaces to reassess contentious geographies, willful migration, conquests as well as historical displacement in ancient lands around the Arabian Gulf (Middle East & South Asia).

These panoramas divulge a cultural and scholarly ‘excavation’ by the artist who takes a nuanced approach towards accepted history and attempts to restage it. Her mural-like drawings are meticulously rendered in graphite on paper, and invite the viewers to undertake arduous journeys with her to reexamine historical events with an oblique eye on the future.

Her refined mark-making provides smooth transitions between disparate events, natural and man-made elements, and yet alludes to a collision of narratives, leaving the viewer engaged in an exercise of continuing exploration.

Saba is an artist and an art educator based in Dubai. She has a BFA in painting from the National College of Arts (NCA), Lahore and a Masters in Art Education from RISD, USA. She obtained an MFA from the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford, UK, in 2022 where, other than a distinction, she won both the Mansfield-Ruddock Prize and the Pembroke Embery Prize for her thesis. Her work has been showcased in Oxford, New York, Dubai, Hong Kong, San Francisco, as well as Pakistan, including several solo presentations.

Saba’s work has been regularly featured at Art Dubai and in 2017 UAE Unlimited commissioned her for works for the Royal Collection. South Asian Institute (SAI) at UC Berkeley, USA declared her Artist of the Year 2022.

The exhibition is being curated by Fatima Shah who has a keen interest in art, literature and cultural heritage.

Ms Shah the curator of the exhibition while throwing light on Saba’s artworks said,

“Her complex spatial engagement with history and human movement is extraordinary. Her immaculate drawings offer the viewer an immersive experience in the expanse of territories and at times familiar landscapes, to reassess events in history. Her area of focus is the lands around the Middle East and South Asia,” Fatima Shah said.

Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2023

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