Shikwa, Jawab-e-Shikwa

Holder of a bachelor’s degree in Miniature painting, along with a Masters in Visual Arts, from the National college of Arts (Lahore), Sobia Ahmed is a Lahore-based artist whose work is mainly based on the various socio-political predicament situations that define the boundaries of human interaction on both a national, as well as an international level. Her work aims to raise questions within the viewer’s minds regarding the situations that define political boundaries around the world.


Her work examines the gradual decline of Ideology in Pakistan. This decline has often been attributed to the influence and interference of the West within Pakistan’s sociopolitical structure.



Our inability to free ourselves from outside interference and manage to create our own firm, personal ideology, has meant that there was no ground for us to be able to counter Western imperialism in our post-colonial era. Sobia has attempted to draw out these similarities between the past and present political scenario through an interplay of symbols that characterize the current (predicament) of Pakistan. We have failed to create a common ideology for everyone to stand united under, and this has led to divisions based on sect, religion and ethnicity, among others.



The problems this failure has caused, is the main focus of her work.  Some not so subtle images, like arrows, focus on the suffering and helplessness that have become the philosophy of a wandering nation. Her depiction of thick foliage in an array of greens, would sometimes appear soothing, but at other times it appears as uncomfortable creepers that may be aesthetically pleasing, but symbolize overwhelming darkness, suffocation and discomfort. One can notice how the dark foliage slowly creeps across the national flag, and becomes a meaningful metaphor for how our national identity is slowly crumbling away into irrelevant nothingness.  Dashes of dark red thread and various materials have been juxtaposed against backgrounds of Gold and silver leaf that all-together combine to form imagery that depicts a rather grim and saddening reflection on Pakistan and its current state of affairs.



Sobia has tried to appropriate national symbols so that we may examine them under a new light and question the current notions that have been imposed upon us. Through this venture i.e her work, and it’s process, she aims to create a dialogue, between the good and the evil, with parallel diptychs that complement yet contradict each other. Hence, the Show title, “Shikwa, Jawab-e-Shikwa” which is inspired by the work of our National Poet himself, Allama Iqbal.


The show opened at Chowkandi Art Gallery on 4th Sept 2018.


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