Saira Wasim


escapeintolife swasim1Lamentations of Innocence (Genocide), 2005, gouache and tea wash on wasli paper, 30 x 18 cm

escapeintolife_swasim2Ignorance is Bliss, 2006, gouache and gold on wasli paper,21.1 cm x 36. 1 cm

escapeintolife- swasim3The Rebels, 2007, gouache and tea washes on wasli paper, 22.9 x 30 .5 cm

escapeintolife swasim4Demockery, 2008, gouache, gold and tea washes on wasli paper, 27.2 x 46 cm

escapeintolife swasim5East versus West, 2007, gouache on wasli paper, 20 .3 x 25.4

escapeintolife swasim6Plea for Peace, 2008, gouache, gold leaf and ink on tea staine wasli paper, 21.5 x 22.8 cm

escapeintolife swasim7Oil on Canvas (Operation Iraqi Liberation), 2006, gouache and gold on wasli paper, 25 x 22.1 cm

escapeintolife swasim8Cricket Match, gouache and ink on wasli paper

escapeintolife swasim9Demockery II, 2009,Gouache, ink, gold leaf, and metallic stars on wasli paper , 38.1 x 48.6 cm

About The Artist

Saira Wasim ingeniously subverts Mughal miniature painting, a tradition in which she was trained in Lahore, Pakistan, to depict contemporary world politics as a stage on which actors are engaged in epic struggles frozen in time.

Identifiable current world leaders like George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Hosni Mubarak, Mahmood Ahmadinejad, and Pervez Musharraf stand-in for their countries while symbols of American cultural imperialism like Ronald McDonald and Coca-Cola are animated alongside allegorical animals.

Wasim’s gouache miniatures pay homage to her heritage while redirecting their content to a critique of the present, rather than a dialogue with history or a defense of history painting. Wasim’s paintings blend Eastern technique and contemporary content from her vantage point in the West; they are neither pro-eastern nor pro-western; neither Orientalist nor Occidentalist. (Tuffs University Art Gallery)

Anna Sloan, art historian, writes:

Teeming with figures captured in mid-action, paintings by Saira Wasim (b. 1975, Lahore, Pakistan) present grand narratives. If it weren’t for their petite size and two-dimensionality, they might be mistaken for Greek mythology, Baroque opera, epic film, or other monumental genres.

Yet, these small paintings represent a singular creation, one that transcends any individual medium or genre. In Wasim’s hands, the centuries-old format of the miniature painting has been transformed into a stage for human drama, a jam-packed cinematic space that approaches the grandeur of Cecil B. DeMille and the glamour of Bollywood.

Like the protagonists of such grand genres, Wasim’s characters gesticulate, prance, shoot, and fly in majestic style. They laugh and boast in hideous fashion, and morph into grotesque hybrid creatures that hint at transcendent themes of good and evil.

Saira Wasim’s Website

Thanks to Scott Rothstein for finding this artist