Becoming a Woman


Becoming a Woman

To occupy,  to salivate,  to satiate,      to claim, reclaim, to bequeath, to retain, maintain, to claim, maintain.   Chiseled with a p

In Print: Sydney to Lahore
Julius John
Book Review: Dadi

To occupy,  to salivate,  to satiate,

     to claim,

reclaim, to bequeath, to retain, maintain, to claim,



Chiseled with a placid air of tempestuous restraint; a saline potency frothing with the enduring air of indignation. Najm’s work, an invocation of female virtue, rendered with color and qualm; petulant yet prudent; a slippery collection of strokes, held together in perennial poise.


Qinza Najm’s show was recently held at Chawkandi Art Gallery, curated by Nimra Khan. Najm’s interests in the female body as both “medium and subject”, is manifest in the tangible and intangible occupation of the body. She refers to her use the body as a “motif”, which is an interesting term as it renders the subject as stylized,;reduced to a familiar form, almost stripping away the nuance of her being. This further enables her qualms with the hierarchies that surround the visible and invisible body. The marginalization of the female body; the body in defiance, the body as interruption, the body when it mimics the polar, the body as it expands and perforates it’s territory and slips beyond the norm. The body becomes the vehicle to probe the question. She confronts the body as it comes into conflict with its religious affiliations, the body staged to perform roles, the body as it disrupts and erupts into a sanguine state of metaphor. “Bodies stretched, deconstructed, distorted, and pushed beyond their limits”


Her use of the medium and surface add a hint of candor, and an opaque restlessness of creating, constantly reiterating the form. Her use of strokes and primary palates fused with imagery created a sense of agility. The zippers used on canvas further remarked her stance towards the female body in performativity, and engaged with the notion of control. The posture of the woman with legs spread wide, becomes an act of defiance. The woman, fluid in her state, constantly shrinking herself to accommodate the world around her. Her entire body of work becomes an act of reconciliation with the conflict of being, and through the process emancipating from the fine lines of the body and becoming a woman.


The conflict resides within the dichotomy of gender, and the implications of being and un-being. Her work becomes a catapult to remark upon the deeper issues of sexual, financial, reproductive, political, legal and social rights and freedoms”.


Najm’s role as a diaspora artist further propels her work into a seismic state of interruption. Laced with questions about Islamophobia, racists stereotypes; the work changes as it travels geographically. The idea of a South Asian female is shifting phenomenon based on the viewpoint it encounters. However, the need to reiterate identity retains. The constant need to reorganize one’s need to the shifting scape of patriarchal norms. Apart from her artistic practice Najm is also a trained psychologist, which also allows her to play to the nuances and create a sense of empathy and understanding between societies and cultures. Najm remarks “my work is about our capacity for transformation, empathy, and awareness”.


Perhaps the transformative prowess becomes the agility that carries her work with fervor. The work eclipses into a state of ruffled deliberation and mindful rigor. Her play on familiar tropes of the female; the depiction of Venus, becomes a backdrop for her conflicts, and the prudent use of oriental patterns, slashes; which in her work refers to violence toward the visible and invisible body. The provocation within her work sits in a state of repose.


Nimra Khan’s curation of the show further lends to the seismic continuity of the works. The usage of color as a backdrop for works, the decision to not arrange the work in a grid-like fashion further lends to the experience of the work. Najm’s works are boisterous in their articulation yet carry a sense calm, which is probably attributed to her use of medium.


Najm’s work engages the private and public notion, and becomes an interesting rhetoric for the female body within its wider consequences.





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