She paints life

By Nida Mohsin
Tue, 02, 19

Anum Ashraf is a visual artist from Karachi. She graduated from Indus Valley school of Art and Architecture......


Anum Ashraf is a visual artist from Karachi. She graduated from Indus Valley school of Art and Architecture, majoring in Painting and Miniatures; and has been showcasing her paintings since then. Anum has exhibited widely at watercolour biennales across the globe, and been part of several exhibitions locally. In 2017, she was part of an artist residency programme in Spain. In 2018, she had her first solo exhibition. Anum paints her moods and feelings and what she loves best, to be connected with nature. Her favourite painting mediums are watercolours and oil.

Shanzay Subzwari, a renowned visual artist, best describes her work, “With our increasingly isolated routines and lack of opportunity of exercise out in the open, being outdoors in nature and green spaces is not only enjoyable, but also therapeutic. Our bodies crave nature whether we realise it or not, and we are truly deprived of it unless we make a conscious effort to be in nature and appreciate it more. Not only are Anum Ashraf’s works beautiful to perceive, they are also relevant reminders of the kind of world we were designed to live in, and should be living in.”

In an exclusive interview with You!, Anum Ashraf talks about her work...

You! What made you pursue art?

Anum Ashraf: I have always loved colours and creating visuals with them.

You! Why do you paint?

AA: I paint for peace and relaxation; I try to project myself through all my subjects/themes.

You! What is your specialty in terms of the techniques and materials you use?

AA: I mostly work with watercolours and oil paints, on large surfaces.

You! Is there an element in your art you enjoy the most?

AA: Yes, nature-derived themes.

You! What is the inspiration behind your work?

AA: Life around me; things happening around me inspires me to express my feelings on canvas.

You! Is there any work of yours you are most proud of?

AA: Yes, definitely, my most favourite piece is ‘Nostalgia’; it’s a triptych, in blue hues.

You! Can you tell us how long does it normally take you to finish one painting?

AA: It depends on the scale and subject of the painting. My ‘Under the foliage’ series is a large-scale panelled series and it roughly takes me about two weeks to complete a series of three-four panels. Other smaller pieces take me a couple of hours.

You! How many exhibitions you have done so far?

AA: I have been part of various water colour biennales worldwide - Italy, Malaysia, Canada, Albania, Bulgaria and Thailand to name a few. I have exhibited at art galleries locally and abroad (Spain), and recently had a solo exhibition at ArtKaam gallery in Karachi.

You! What do you dislike about the art world?

AA: It needs to welcome new grads/emerging and female artists more warmly than they do.

You! What do you like about your work?

AA: It gives me peace and solace.

You! What do you dislike about your work?

AA: The process and scale is time-consuming but I don’t hate that about it. I actually love the process!

You! How do people receive your work?

AA: So far, so good!

You! What is your dream project?

AA: I want to make a 24-feet long painting.

You! Name your favourite artists:

AA: Raphael, Michelangelo, Muhammad Zeeshan, Ali Abbas Syed, David Hockney, Rabeya Jalil, Irfan Hassan and many more...

You! Do you travel in order to gain knowledge or get inspired for your work?

AA: Yes, I get to travel a lot, and have painted various series about my travel diaries. In 2017, I was part of a residency programme in Spain.

You! In your opinion, how would you define surreal art?

AA: The visuals take you inside a dream...

You! What is an artistic outlook on life?

AA: “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together” - Vincent Van Gogh.

You! Tell us about some of your most defining past projects?

AA: My ‘Under the Foliage’ tree panel series. It is a series of large tree panels, which give an inside out window view of foliage outside. It is painted as such to give a feel like you’re sitting under a tree.

You! What’s your biggest accomplishment to-date?

AA: Being the youngest member on the executive committee of IWS (International Watercolour Society) Pakistan since 2016.

You! How do you unwind?

AA: I listen to music.

You! Your philosophy of life:

AA: Live and let live, please!

You! What is your favourite subject that is close to your heart?

AA: My Upside down series - it’s full of emotions. ‘Upside down’ are a series of dream like paintings depicting scenes/objects up in the sky on the clouds.

You! Do you think we can change established mindsets through painting?

AA: Yes I do... art has visuals or themes that strike many minds and put people to thinking, and that is what I love about it.

You! Do you think there is place for new painters/artists in today’s techno world, and if people still like buying paintings?

AA: Yes definitely, there is a niche market but there are still art lovers who happily buy a piece that appeal to them.

You! What are your future plans?

AA: I plan to continue painting and exhibiting, IA.

Her work is available at Sanat Art Gallery and ArtKaam Gallery, Karachi; & Gallery Espai B - Barcelona.