VASL Art

Alia Bilgrami

 

Statement

Through my practice I have questioned the notion of displacement, articulating the feeling using symbols that remind me of places that I have lived in such as the map of Karachi, where I grew up; the maple leaf from Montreal, where I was born to the tulip from my current home in Islamabad. The cardboard box features as the main symbol that represents the feeling of displacement both literally and metaphorically. These works contain fragments from my own sense of dislocation and are meant to evoke a sense of belonging or of being scattered. My work, multilayered, covers various aspects of displacement, and is open to interpretation. Currently the work is a combination of contemporary miniature painting, drawing and photography that I have developed over the past two years, experimenting with and trying to push the boundaries of contemporary miniature painting.

DISPLACEMENT

My BFA thesis work was an attempt at articulating the feeling of displacement through a series of paintings. My visual vocabulary was inspired by elements found on cardboard boxes, such as the language and symbols that are part of a package. The language of the box itself offered me multiple meanings that I could translate into my paintings.

Migration often brings with it alienation and categorization; being put into boxes you may not belong in. The question of identity; hybridism and globalization seem to have one element in common: Each carries a concurrent, perhaps latent, sense of displacement.

This body of work was an attempt at articulating and resolving that feeling using cardboard boxes—essentially utilized for packing and moving—to embody the person or people displaced. Dealing with different kinds of displacement, such as geographical, spiritual, cultural and physical, my miniature paintings also reference memories of living between Montreal, Karachi, London and Islamabad, various homes within cities and the circumstances behind these translocations

My new work is a loose version of these sentiments. Perhaps in some ways, it is an attempt at breaking down the rigidity of the box in the same way that contemporary miniaturists attempt to break down the miniature. While the underlying theme still contains hidden boxes or refers to the box and its construction in some way, it is a far more abstract body of work, in terms of both thought and execution.

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