Loss and Tension in the Exploration of Text in/as Image in Pakistani Art
Loss and Tension in the Exploration of Text in/as Image in Pakistani Art

Language and its usage in Pakistan is a contentious issue; while Urdu is recognized as the national language, it is still English, the legacy of the British Raj, that is given precedence and is used for conducting business.[i] Implicit in the works of many contemporary Pakistani artists working with text today are attempts to try and locate some of these inequalities and lacunae in relation to language that are tied to the historical ruptures created by colonialism. Some artists specifically foreground their art practice in questioning how history, language and culture have been subjected to systemic manipulation and erasure under colonization; its loss has now been compounded by postmodern anxieties. The art of the Book whose history can be traced back to manuscript production provides a point of departure for many contemporary Pakistani artists who are working with text today. Nearly all the artists discussed in this essay are using the ‘Art of the Book’[ii] as a reference through which to question their inability to decipher languages or “read” historical artefacts and images in relation to text.

What vulnerabilities does their acknowledgement of this gradual erasure of language and history reveal? How did colonialism impact language, image production and the construction of national identity?   In order to expand on these concerns it is worth considering the history of the relationship between text and image which was intrinsic to artistic production in South Asia so that one can finally begin questioning how the nature of this atrophying of histories and languages is being interpreted today by Pakistani artists.

Historically the production of illustrated books containing both calligraphy and image can be traced back to muraqqa[iii] albums that were either Mughal, Persianate or Arabic.[iv] Similarly divans[v], collated sometimes as anthologies, were often decorated with gold leaf or elaborate borders and were in Persian. These works were produced in karkhanas[vi] where specialized division of labour and supervision by an ustaad[vii]  enabled these massive undertakings. As courtly patronage waned, the link between artists and calligraphers was severed.

Abdur Rehman Chughtai attempted to reference this historical tradition when he published seminal works such as “Muraqqa-i-Chughtai” (1928) which was an illustrated collection of Urdu poetry of the verses of Divan-i-Ghalib. [viii]After Partition, it was the arrival of modernism that became the catalyst for transforming the milieu and aesthetics that would inform the development of calligraphy and modern art. Not only was the link between artist and calligrapher reconfigured but transnational modernist vocabulary and formalist concerns prompted the artist to emerge as autonomous creator, progenitor of a work of art using mediums associated with the western canon of art such as oil paint. Nevertheless some Avant Garde Pakistani artists continued to reference history, poetry and script with an awareness of its historical genesis and evolution in the region prior to the British Raj. In many of their works Shakir Ali  and Sadequain continued to use poetry and letters as expressive, graphic forms and went so far as to innovate and create their own distinct script. For example Akbar Naqvi writes that Shakir Ali merged Naskh[ix] and a Maghrebi[x] version of Kufic[xi] to produce some of his works.[xii] He was also a connoisseur of literature and contributed to writings on art. Sadeqain was inspired by Kufic as he drew and painted his calligraphic forms.[xiii] He drew inspiration from poetry and illustrated Ghalib’s verses[xiv] (1968-1969) as well as those of Allama Iqbal. In addition Sadeqain produced a volume of over a thousand Rubais[xv] which he wrote, calligraphed and illustrated himself much like a muraqqa album.[xvi]

When Roland Barthes elaborates on the “Text of Pleasure”, one of its characteristics is described as “… that comes from culture and does not break with it, is linked to a comfortable practice of reading.”[xvii] In essence despite their claim to being Avant Garde artists of their time, and as enunciated by Roland Barthes, both Ali and Sadeqain  did not break away from their historical past whether it was through their literary pursuits or through their combined use of text and image such as in the case of Sadeqain. Their texts are legible, distinct and reference a historical continuity in line with Barthes’ description.

This narrative began to shift when diasporic artists based in London namely Anwar Jelal Shemza and Rasheed Araeen introduced issues of legibity/illegibity as key characteristics of their text based works.  Shemza’s alienation when he arrived in London as a student compelled him to embark on a soul-searching journey where he began questioning his identity. British Museum collections, allowed him access to Islamic art from various parts of the world and from different eras. He became enamored with carpet patterns, geometry and design. As a result Shemza began experimenting with merging Islamic design and modernist abstraction. This eventually culminated in a landmark series titled The Roots (series) as shown in Fig. 1 and Fig. 2 where Shemza combines forms reminiscent of cursive Arabic script with organic plant forms.[xviii]  Form, namely the shapes of the flowers emerging from the ground and the curves of the letters become central to the image while legibility is no longer a concern. Indecipherability and ambiguity in the image emerges as a natural consequence of the process of beginning to discover ones roots anew. Meaning is elusive and half formed.

(Fig. 1) Roots, by Anwar Jelal Shemza, 1977, Hand dyed cloth on marble hardboard, 61 x 44 cm.
(Fig. 2) Roots 6, by Anwar Jelal Shemza, 1984, ink on paper.

With Rasheed Araeen, and his Ethnic Drawings series, all vestigial contact with historical reference as evinced in Shemza’s work, ornament and design central to muraqqa albums and their production is severed. Araeen’s combination of text and image recalibrates itself around issues of visibility/invisibility with reference to race, post-colonial angst and in contrast to Sadequain and Shakir Ali, uses illegibility of text as the focal point. At and beyond this juncture the works of many text based artists begin leaning more towards what Barthes would refer to as a “Text of Bliss: a text that imposes a state of loss, the text that discomforts, unsettles the reader’s historical, cultural, psychological assumptions, the consistency of his tastes, values, memories, brings to a crisis his relation with language”.[xix] The crisis in this case being the dissolution of the world view that shaped the relationship between text and image and which now begins to reorient itself in relation to entanglements with colonialism, race and erasure of language.

In Araeen’s Ethnic Drawings series shown in Fig.3 dilemmas of diasporic identity in relation to the self are explored through text. The transcendental quality of text that was evoked in modernist art is now obsolete.[xx] Letters of the Urdu alphabet in Araeen’s work are angrily and randomly scrawled graffiti-like on his own portrait without reference to any font with a historical lineage. They merge with words written in English such as BR/OWN, PA/KI, BL/ACK and even contain the remnant of an English nursery rhyme “Yes sir Yes sir One Bag Full”.  Partial Indecipherability unsettles and troubles the viewer. The image evokes a narrative of loss but it is also subversive in its commentary on the discrimination leveled against brown artists.[xxi]

(Fig.3) Ethnic Drawings by Rasheed Araaeen, 1982, Drawings on Cardboard. Four panels, each 80 x 45.5 cm

Today, the use of random script/letters as signifiers in the works of many contemporary Pakistani artists based in their home country seem to reference a conflict of a partially inscrutable historical past/cultural identity; one that is embedded in post-colonial dilemmas. The schism between the languages English and Urdu manifests itself in divisions of class and hierarchy in a country where Urdu is regarded as the domain of only those who are educated in this medium of instruction and in some cases are even considered inferior by an English-speaking elite.  This can sometimes manifest itself in that some artists are working with Urdu script and text while others prefer English.[xxii] Moreover most contemporary artists today are not trained calligraphers. Muzummil Ruheel is an exception to this rule and that makes his practice even more intriguing. In his solo exhibition titled “Misunderstandings” mounted sculptures of letters are in disarray. Scattered and dismembered, the violence of these acts challenges the function and history of language which was meant to forge a sense of national unity in nations. Not only are the words illegible but they emerge as forms divorced from history or context. In one of his seminal pieces shown in Fig. 4 titled “Misunderstanding” the Urdu word taqseem (to separate) is represented with its middle chunk missing.[xiii] In other works from his series “Lost in His Own Garden[xxiv] shown in Fig. 5 titled “Nowhere to Run” and   Fig. 6 “Memories of Black Stone”, densely calligraphed but illegible text overlaps faces and images in monochromatic photographs. Nowhere to Run shows a cropped portion of  what could be family portraits while Memories of Black Stone show a cropped portion of a horse and rider who is dressed in royal attire perhaps alluding to the British Raj. Both images by virtue of this description can be subsumed under the discourse on colonialism and its legacy/memories. Cropped, culled, truncated and indecipherable; the ambiguity of these images not only unsettles but directs us to the arbitrariness of signs that change with time.[xxv] The text can no longer be read or understood as it once was but the forms are forging a new relationship with the images as we reassess the impact of the British Raj and its policies today.

(Fig. 4) Misunderstanding. By Muzummil Ruheel, 2019, Water resistant MDF and oil paint (wall mounted), 74 x 92 x 1.5 inches.

Ghulam Mohammad references his alienation from both Urdu and English as an artist from Balochistan when he painstakingly culls letters from magazines and transforms them into a sea of dense and indecipherable landscapes of forms that seem to move and carve their own paths across surfaces as shown in Fig. 7 and Fig. 8. Much like Ruheel’s works they are devoid of historical context but in this case no verses or words can be identified. Instead it is letters or script that becomes a signifier for language. Moreover, there is reference to a muraqqa album format where the image is placed in the central rectangle and there is a border surrounding it which would normally contain illuminated borders or in some cases calligraphy. In Mohammad’s images silhouettes and forms in the central rectangle can be identified but they are composed of and overwhelmed by lettering implying an unreadable image and text. Rather than reading them as script which is written left to right, these letters are dispersed all over the composition. They fight for recognition mirroring Mohammad’s struggle and alienation when he arrived in a big city. Mohammad says, “I had a few questions…how does language evolve? As time passes it loses its natural form and morphs into something else. Languages die. New idioms combine with older ones. It becomes a messy tangled web. Is it good for us?”[xxvi] Even the titles of the works Junbish (motion) and Mehdood (limited) describe the process of movement, assimilation and limitation that underly the evolution of language.

Mohammad’s views align with Saussure who in a similar vein says “Language is no longer free, for time will allow the social forces at work on it to carry out their effects…But continuity necessarily implies change, varying degrees of shifts in the relationship between the signified and signifier”[xxvii]. While post cubist abstraction in text had still connected with other modernisms and historical narratives that recalled a past, in contrast, the work of contemporary artists such as Mohammad with his morass of Urdu lettering is swimming and jostling for space in a nation still conflicted about its language, past and identity.

Derrida states in Grammatology that “Différance maintains our relationship with what we necessarily misconstrue and which exceeds the alternative of presence and absence”.[xviii] The Différance in the works of both artists would refer to the futility of the viewer in attempting to form meanings and relationships in unstable colonial constructs when knowledge has been lost or manipulated: who are the people in the images? Why cannot we read what is written when it “resembles” Urdu script? How are these textual forms linked to archival photographs?

Both Aisha Abid Hussain and Mohammad Ali Talpur efface recognizable font/script altogether in many of their works and recall a history of loss. In Fig. 9 and Fig. 10 Talpur’s geometric forms distilled from calligraphic scripts and illuminated pages in manuscripts recall similar experiments carried out by Anwar Jalal Shemza in the late 50s.  In this case Talpur’s monochromatic blocks of “text” are neither readable nor can they be called decorative. They are at best gestures and mark making exercise that form a balanced whole. Their visual language is that of harmony but evokes a historical past that is incomprehensible. Unlike the illuminated manuscripts that these images are invoking, there are no borders or ornament.

Aisha Abid Hussain goes so far as to juxtapose bones of the human skeleton with her intimate inscribing of text in a format resembling a book in a series of works titled “A Fine Balance Between Love and Despair”.[xxix]  In Fig. 11 and Fig. 12 both text and image in her works imply absence- the absence of comprehension in the case of her illegible “text” and the absence of life in the placement of the remains of a dead body in the midst of this text. The works seem to mourn the demise of something that is incomprehensible but it is the obscure relationship between the “text” and image that is most unsettling. So what is the meaning behind this absence?

In Hal Foster’s book titled The Anti-Aesthetic Essays on Post Modern Culture Frederic Jameson explains how Bob Perelman’s poem “China” contains no structure and logic because he was inspired by a book of photographs in Chinatown whose captions and characters he could not read. ”The sentences in “China” are his captions to those pictures.” Since “those pictures” are in another book he could not fully comprehend, the “unity of the poem” has been lost to that book.[xxx] Much in the same way it could be argued that the present absences in the works of Talpur and Abid have been similarly lost since the referents can longer be understood or read by them so they are in essence referring to a lost past when their forefathers could understand the languages and relationships between text and image.

Ayesha Jatoi’s practice also investigates this history of loss and absence but through critiquing and contesting the traditional codes and frameworks that have defined the history of miniature painting itself. In many of her works she uses text in English to dismantle the historical relationship between text and image and also paves the way for it to confront contemporary debates in western art where for example the “idea” must be given precedence over aesthetics as exemplified by Joseph Kosuth and the mélange of artistic mediums of expression that emerged after the advent of Conceptual Art.[xxxi]

In   Fig. 13 “Untitled (The Woman Playing the Dholki)” we see words handwritten on a wasli[xxxii] that act as stand-ins for the actual visual representation of objects in traditional miniature painting. Labels such as “tree”, “orange dupatta”, “red tunic”, “ A Lady W an Extended Arm Holding An Offering” are  textual signifiers but if the relationship between the signifier and signified is arbitrary according to Saussurian belief [xxiii]then what do they signify? For instance, the text “A Lady W an Extended Arm Holding An Offering” could mean something other than what was intended when read by another person. Most importantly what happens when aesthetic considerations are replaced by their absence and images are translated into text written in the language of the colonizer? It certainly raises larger questions about the history of patronage in manuscript production: Who produced miniature paintings and for what purpose?

(Fig. 13) Untitled ( A Woman Playing the Dholki) by Ayesha Jatoi, 2013, Graphite on Paper, 8.3 × 11.4 in 21 × 29 cm

In one of her works titled “Mirror Mirror” (2010) Fig. 14 and Fig. 15 Jatoi narrates a story told in the style of a fairytale in English about “a girl called Miniature Painting”[xxxiv] which can be read as a history and interpretation of the dilemma that traditional painting faces as it confronts post modernity.

In the poem titled “China” by Bob Perelman that Frederic Jameson quotes, the structure of the text is illogical and disjointed. The text veers between sense and nonsense and contains contradictions. Jameson uses the poem to highlight the characteristics of the postmodern condition.[xxxv] In a similar vein, Jatoi uses text to emphasize the same dilemmas. While “Mirror Mirror” contains a single narrative, parts of it do not cohere such as when Miniature Painting is referred to as a “she” or when Miniature Painting “dances to the tunes of MTV and Bollypop”.[xxxvi] Since the signifier is Miniature Painting it cannot be “translated”  or read “it”  or “she” too talks about the  demise of tradition but one that also resuscitates itself to become symptomatic of a new world view; one whose aesthetics and content is defined  by the  pervasive global influence and soft power of Bollywood, pop music and MTV culture.

The body of text runs horizontally like a scroll across the walls of the gallery. Of particular interest is the part where Miniature Painting who is a female protagonist, “contemplated the relationship between the image and the Word.”[xxxvii] In fretting over who she loves more, she becomes sad as her imagination begins to fail her.[xxxviii] The tale is narrated in English, the language promoted by the British Raj so it is the “slippage/excess”[xxxix] produced by this “mimcry”[xl] as elaborated upon by Homi Bhabha that is intriguing. Is Jatoi then harkening back to the demise of knowledge and narrative art that was required to produce manuscript painting as a collaborative venture between artist and calligrapher when she talks about “the relationship between the image and the Word?” Or is she also commenting on the futility in dwelling on and attempting to recreate a timeless nostalgic past?

There are other artists worth mentioning who work with text and emerge in the backdrop of a post 9/11 scenario to comment on the dilemmas of Muslim identity such as Tazeen Qayyum who is based in Canada. Qayyum’s works as well as those of other artists require a separate discourse that does justice to their diverse art practice but suffice to say Qayyum opts for a pacifist approach quite possibly in response to the slew of criticism that was leveled globally against Muslims after 9/11. Her physically demanding and laborious performances involve writing and repetition of phrases in Urdu such as “We do Not Know Who We Are Where We Go” as shown in Fig. 16 and Fig. 17.

Qayyum’s approach is in contrast to other contemporary Pakistani artists discussed earlier who use text, misreading, indecipherability as a means to mourn the erasure and loss of transcultural histories, languages and manuscript production that had enriched the history of South Asian art. Unlike Araeen’s aggressive critique as a diasporic and marginalized artist, Qayyum is reflective and introspective. She performs live, engages with her audience through the act of writing. ‘They see me as the brush now so my body becomes the object or the brush or the pen…”.[xl1]  Could Qayyum’s body then be interpreted as  transforming  into a referent or substitute for a more benign representation of Muslims who are attempting  to assimilate a “glocal” identity?

Other artists who use text frequently and are beginning to tackle areas such as institutional critique, globalization amongst other issues include artists Amin Rahman, Mohsin Shafi, Emaan Mahmud, Fazal Rizvi and Saba Khan.

Contemporary Pakistani artists are grappling with the aftereffects of conflicted identity in a post-colonial landscape. These manifest themselves in myriad ways but in their use of text and choice of language in relation to or as image they display some similarities such as when they reference a history of loss and erasure. Homi Bhabha defines this gap  as that  “of signifying the interstitial passages and processes of cultural difference that are inscribed in the “in-between”, in the temporal break-up that weaves the “global” text. [xlii]

This essay has tried to demonstrate how the art practice of many Pakistani artists is foregrounded in highlighting the failure of text to communicate and perform its required function. Illegibility is a key feature that is being used to highlight larger issues in a post-colonial context that plague the nation.

The challenge lies in how Pakistani artists mediate between various identities and project these concerns in their art practice as they move in the international art world charting the linguistic and cultural differences that have emerged in their encounter with colonialism, capitalism and globalization.


Ali, Salwat. “Exhibition: Failure To Communicate”. Https://Www.Dawn.Com, 2021. https://www.dawn.com/news/1511767.
Barthes, Roland. The Pleasure Of The Text. Ebook. Reprint, New York: Hill and Wang, 1998.
Bhabha, Homi. The Location Of Culture. Ebook. Reprint, London: Routledge, 1994.
CBC Arts, 2016. Why Tazeen Qayyum is Willing to Suffer Joint Pain For Her Art. Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPUeQ4XSBMU> [Accessed 18 February 2021].
Dadi, Iftikhar. Modernism And The Art Of Muslim South Asia (Islamic Civilization And Muslim Networks). Reprint, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press;, 2010.
Derrida, Jacques. Margins Of Philosophy. Reprint, Chicago: The University of Chicago, 1982.
Foster, Hal. The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays On Postmodern Culture Also Viewed. Ebook. 5th ed. Reprint, Bay Press, 1983.
Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism, Or, The Cultural Logic Of Late Capitalism (Post-Contemporary Interventions). Reprint, USA: Duke University Press, 1991.
Jatoi, Ayesha. Mirror, Mirror. Vinyl Continuum. Reprint, Madrid: Sabrina Amrani, 2010.
Kosuth, Joseph. Art After Philosophy And After Collected Writings 1966-1990. Ebook. Reprint, London: MIT Press, 1991.
Mirza, Quddus. “Sadeqain For All”. In Sadeqain The Holy Sinner, 74-77. Abdul Hamid Akhund, Farida Said and Zohra Yusuf. Reprint, Karachi: Hamdard Press, 2003.
Mirza, Quddus. “Between The Lines”. Https://Www.Thenews.Com.Pk, 2017. https://www.thenews.com.pk/tns/detail/563302-lines.
Murtaza, Zohreen. “Jameel Prize Winner Ghulam Muhammad Talks About Using Words As Visuals”. Https://Images.Dawn.Com, 2016. https://images.dawn.com/news/1175845.
Naqvi, Akbar. Image And Identity Painting And Sculpture In Pakistan 1947-1997. 2nd ed. Reprint, Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Saussure, Ferdinand. Course In General Linguistics. Ebook. Reprint, New York: Columbia University Press, 2011.
Schimmel, Annemarie. “The Calligraphy And Poetry Of The Kevorkian Album”. In The Emperor’s Album, 31-32. Stuart Welch, Annemarie Schimmel, Marie Swietochowski and Wheeler Thackston. Reprint, New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987.


[i] Quddus Mirza, “Sadeqain For All”, in Sadeqain The Holy Sinner (repr., Karachi: Hamdard Press, 2003), 74-77.
[ii] By “Art of the Book” I mean to refer to painting, calligraphy, illumination and book binding, all of which are important  components of  art when discussing  the Islamic world.
[iii] A book or album containing a collection of miniature paintings and calligraphy
[iv] Iftikhar Dadi, Modernism And The Art Of Muslim South Asia (Islamic Civilization And Muslim Networks) (repr., North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press;, 2010), 67
[v] collections of poetry.
[vi] Imperial workshops or ateliers under the Mughals that produced paintings in the form of a collaborative team with each group or artists specializing in specific tasks in order to complete the painting.
[vii] Master.
[viii] Dadi, 66-68.
[ix] A style of Arabic calligraphy commonly used in the Arab world.
[x] A style of Arabic calligraphy widely used in North Africa.
[xi] Oldest calligraphif form of the Arabic script also used to copy the Quran.
[xii] Akbar Naqvi, Image And Identity Painting And Sculpture In Pakistan 1947-1997, 2nd ed. (repr., Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1998), 93.
[xiii] Dadi, 156.
[xiv] Dadi, 141-142.
[xv] A form of Persian poetry which consists of a verse of four lines.
[xvi] Dadi, 166-167
[xvii] Roland Barthes, The Pleasure Of The Text, ebook (repr., New York: Hill and Wang, 1998), 14.
[xviii] Iftikhar Dadi, Anwar Jalal Shemza Calligraphic Abstraction, ebook (repr., London: Green Cardamom, 2009), 1-4.
[xix] Barthes, The Pleasure Of The Text, 14.
[xx] Iftikhar Dadi, “A Brief History Of Form And Meaning In Pakistani Art”, Herald Magazine, 2017, http://herald.dawn.com/news/1153861.
[xxi] Dadi, 189-191.
[xxii] Mirza, 74-77.
[xxiii] Salwat Ali, “Exhibition: Failure To Communicate”, Https://Www.Dawn.Com, 2021,
[xxiv] Lost In His Own Garden, ebook (repr., Grosvenor Gallery, 2016),
[xxv] Ferdinand Saussure, Course In General Linguistics, ebook (repr., New York: Columbia University Press, 2011),
[xxvi] Zohreen Murtaza, “Jameel Prize Winner Ghulam Muhammad Talks About Using Words As Visuals”, Https://Images.Dawn.Com, 2016, https://images.dawn.com/news/1175845.
[xxvii] Saussure, 78.
[xxviii] Jacques Derrida, Margins Of Philosophy (repr., Chicago: The University of Chicago, 1982), 10.
[xxix] Quddus Mirza, “Between The Lines”, Https://Www.Thenews.Com.Pk, 2017, https://www.thenews.com.pk/tns/detail/563302-lines
[xxx] Hal Foster, The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays On Postmodern Culture Also Viewed, ebook, 5th ed. (repr., Bay Press, 1983), 123.
[xxxi] Joseph Kosuth, Art After Philosophy And After Collected Writings 1966-1990, ebook (repr., London: MIT Press, 1991), 16.
[xxxii] A type of handmade paper used especially for miniature paintings
[xxxiii] Saussure, 71-75.
[xxxiv] Ayesha Jatoi, Mirror, Mirror, Vinyl Continuum (repr., Madrid: Sabrina Amrani, 2010).
[xxxv] Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, Or, The Cultural Logic Of Late Capitalism (Post-Contemporary Interventions)     (repr., USA: Duke University Press, 1991), 28-29
[xxxvi] Jatoi,2010
[xxxvii] Jatoi, 2010
[xxxviii] Jatoi, 2010
[xxxix] Homi Bhabha, The Location Of Culture, ebook (repr., London: Routledge, 1994), 86.
[xl] Bhabha, 86.
[xli] CBC Arts, Why Tazeen Qayyum Is Willing To Suffer Joint Pain For Her Art, video, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPUeQ4XSBMU.
[xlii] Bhabha, 217.

Image References

Fig. 1 Shemza, Anwar. Roots, 1977. Copyright & Courtesy the Estate of Anwar Jalal Shemza.
Fig. 2  Shemza, Anwar. Roots Drawing Six, 1984. Copyright & Courtesy the Estate of Anwar Jalal Shemza.
Fig. 3 Araaeen, Rasheed. Ethnic Drawings. Drawings on Cardboard. Reprint, Copyright and Courtesy Tauqeer Mohajir. 1982.
Fig. 4 Ruheel, Muzummil. Misunderstanding. 2019. Water resistant MDF and oil paint (wall mounted). Copyright and Courtesy Muzummil Ruheel.
Fig. 5  Ruheel, Muzummil. Nowhere to Run.  Acrylics and ink on canvas, 2016. Copyright and Courtesy Muzummil Ruheel.
Fig. 6 Ruheel, Muzummil. Memories of Black Stone.  Acrylics and ink on canvas, 2016. Copyright and Courtesy Muzummil Ruheel.
Fig. 7 Mohammad, Ghulam. Junbish (Motion). Gold-leaf, Iranian Ink and paper collage on wasli (Hand made paper) 2020. Copyright and Courtesy Ghulam Mohammad.
Fig. 8 Mohammad, Ghulam. Mehdood (limited) Gold-leaf, Iranian Ink and paper collage on wasli (Hand made paper) 2020. Copyright and Courtesy Ghulam Mohammad.
Fig. 9 Talpur,Mohammad. Alif. 2015. ink on paper. Copyright and Courtesy Mohammad Talpur.
Fig. 10 Talpur,Mohammad. Alif. 2015. ink on paper. Copyright and Courtesy Mohammad Talpur.
Fig. 11   Abid, Aisha. From A Fine Balance between Love and Despair Series. 2017. Permanent Japanese ink, lead pencil on paper. Copyright and Courtesy Aisha Abid.
Fig. 12  Abid, Aisha. From A Fine Balance between Love and Despair Series. 2017. Permanent Japanese ink, lead pencil on paper. Copyright and Courtesy Aisha Abid.
Fig. 13 Jatoi, Ayesha. Untitled ( A Woman Playing the Dholki). 2013. Graphite on Paper. Copyright and Courtesy Ayesha Jatoi.
Fig. 14 Jatoi, Ayesha. Mirror. 2010. Vinyl continuum. Copyright and Courtesy Ayesha Jatoi.
Fig. 15 Jatoi, Ayesha. Closeup of  Mirror Mirror. 2010. Vinyl continuum. Copyright and Courtesy Ayesha Jatoi.
Fig. 16   Qayyum, Tazeen.‘We Do Not Know Who We Are Where We Go’. Drawing. 2015. Copyright and Courtesy Tazeen Qayyum.
Fig. 17   Qayyum, Tazeen. Closeup of ‘We Do Not Know Who We Are Where We Go’. Drawing. 2015. Copyright and Courtesy Tazeen Qayyum.

Zohreen Murtaza is currently a Lecturer in the Cultural Studies Department at The National College of Arts, Lahore. She completed both her BFA and MA (Hons.) Visual Art from NCA, where she majored in miniature painting and visual art. Since then, she has branched into teaching and writing extensively on contemporary Pakistani art, her writings have been featured in various publications and daily newspapers. Zohreen has diverse research interests that revolve around feminism, post colonialism, globalisation and its impact on material and visual cultures. She has taught Art History courses both at NCA and Kinnaird College for Women as well as History of South Asian Design courses at the Undergraduate level in NCA. In addition, she has also taught South Asian Visual Culture at the M Phil level in the Cultural Studies Department at NCA.

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