Layered Imagery

DATED: 21 AUG 1997

I first encountered Faiza Butts work at the 7th National Exhibition of Art held in Islamabad in 96, and was completely bowled over. Her tryptych entry with double sided painted panels, captured in mood if not style, the mystic excitement of spiritual expectancy found in the Cookham series of Stanley Spencer.

At that time, Faiza was working in the medium of egg tempera, a lengthy process with rich tonal rewards. Determined not to be set in any one style or media, the artist began to experiment with other means of expression. A collection of artwork exhibited at the Chawkandi Art, Clifton, reveals her aesthetic complexity, an intellect to examine and sift reference points that travel from east to west, from magic realism to Sufism to popular culture. Faizas expression encompasses art history and a perceptive feminine viewpoint. Influence is perhaps the wrong term to use in the context of this work, rather the artist assimilates her experiences and impressions of living in vastly different surroundings and cultures.

Faiza graduated from the National College of Arts, Lahore in 93, and was accorded an Honours Award for her thesis. Two years later, the UNESCO-Ascherg Bursary, gave her the opportunity to act as artist in residence at the Bartel Arts Trust, Durban, South Africa. That same year, she was awarded the Burger Gold Medal as Outstanding Student of the Year from NCA. In 96, Faiza joined the faculty of the college where she, currently, teaches a foundation course in drawing. Experimenting with photo- printing, graphite and paint, the artists latest work consists of layered imagery. The Birdwoman of ancient Persian an hovers over Alice pursuing adventures in Wonderland from the illustrated pages of a Victorian story book. There are tears in a garden, sentimental couplings and a cherub holding a bleeding heart. Why the Victorian references? There are two reasons according to Faiza; a reaction to the minimalistic work currently coming out of America; as well, the artist finds a link between the mores of Victorian society and the expectations regarding women of a certain strata in Pakistan today. Like a leitmotif flowers are scattered Iyrically across surfaces, sometimes extending the boundaries of the artwork to their frames, they often soften a strong observation.

From a series of works. The Tool That Terminates, a piece titled: It Happens in autumn, portrays an idyllic garden setting, in the distance an unsuspecting figure carries the accoutrements of an amateur gardener while suspended over a deliciously coloured patch of bright blossoms looms a large pair of metallic scissors. The decorative imagery is continued in the patterned, silver-coloured frame enclosing the artwork.

Aware of the pitfalls, talented young artists face, Faiza Butt is consciously working to avoid them. Delighting in experimentation and innovation, at this moment in time, she has embarked on a self charted course of aesthetic analysis.