Identity Crisis

My work is a product of the current socio-political, ethnic and religious situation unfolding around me everyday, of the compound problems that plague us on a day to day basis and our way of dealing with them.
Here I have shown the head of a man wearing a black and white kaffiyeh and it is painted over a red and white kaffiyeh, showing the multitude of religious outfits that are cropping up and talking of their varied and diverse agendas which fail to coincide with each other even on basic issues.
Difference of Opinion View Larger >
I have again taken a black and white print of a kaffiyeh arranged to look like a flower and painted an image of two heads as if at war with each other, to show that there is dissent and difference of opinion within the ranks of all ethnic and political groups
The Conflict Within View Larger >
I have used the black and white kaffiyeh (more commonly linked with the Palestinian Liberation Movement) and embroidered over it the ancient Jewish motif of the kabbalah, also known as the tree of life. But inside each circle where one may expect symbols relevant to Hebrew customs I have embroidered images like figs olives and dates, which are mentioned in the Quran to show that war doesn't promote any growth, I have executed the work in needlepoint because I feel it is a very peaceful activity with feminine undertones
Who's Tree View Larger >
This is a very personal painting as it deals with my own bloodline, it has a cast of my present face, and the face painted on the side is what I looked like as a child. I have also pasted photographs of my parents and grandparents, and scrawled all over the painting are dates and places of birth of my ancestors and my children
The actual photograph has only three men and I have painted the ones in blue on to the snap to show that people in other countries typecast Pakistanis and place us all in the same frame.
Fabricated View Larger >
The issues surrounding identity are bigger than ever before and I am focusing on the type of identity I see people around me trying to establish, and the advantages or repercussions of that on our once peaceful and tolerant society.
On a different level I am also trying to delve deeper into my own identity in order to come up with answers regarding ancestry and parentage and how these play a significant role in bridging the gaps that have been created in our minds through political boundaries

The Arab headscarf (Kaffiyeh) and photographs of old landmarks of Pakistan play a major role in my new work. I use the scarf because it talks of the kind of identity I see people around me trying to adopt, and juxtaposed with the photographs, they reflect the conflicting emotions of alienation and integration that I feel.
I employ a variety of widely accepted icons in my work such as the ancient Jewish motif of the Kabballah, or the flower of Saint Mary (native to the middle east) or images of flowers like the Bougainvillea and the Gulmohar that are found in abundance in Karachi .I use these images to talk of the multiple hybrid religious and cultural traditions and attitudes, encouraging people to forget the peculiarities that divide us, and focus instead on our common humanity. I have also started using text from the Urdu, English and Hebrew script by arranging it in groups with the same phonetics to further stress this point.

I use the kaffiyeh in a variety of different ways:
Using it as a base for my painting, after preparing it with glue and tissue paper, or photographing it and painting over the image, sometimes I embroider over it, and at times just painstakingly replicate the image through painting.

The photographs of the buildings and structures that I use to paint on are part of the cultural heritage of Pakistan and hold a particular importance in that piece of work.

I also use materials like plaster strips, for making casts of parts of my own body and working on those with collage pen and ink oil pastels and oils. I have recently started needlepoint and either paste the embroidered work onto the image or paint on the embroidered surface, or embroider onto the photograph


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