Through the Looking Glass


Through the Looking Glass

Abid Khalil Ansari’s portraiture and figurative paintings have an emotive depth that is sincere and compassionate. His studio practice, over the year

Mind=Blown – illusions echoing past
Love does not obey
Drawing Through Time

Abid Khalil Ansari’s portraiture and figurative paintings have an emotive depth that is sincere and compassionate. His studio practice, over the years, has explored the difficult social experiences of marginalised fractions that are living on the peripheries of our society. He engages his canvas to represent the overlooked and invisible, such as children and women who exist quietly behind neighbourhood walls and streets in his view.  

The current body of work displayed at ArtChowk Gallery is from the time he has spent in the artist residency program at AJG Studio and Residency Mirpurkhas. The newly launched program offered him the opportunity to create 20 paintings highlighting various scenarios and scenes from personal observation layered with complex social commentary. His unique visual vocabulary is formed by using acrylic paints, the background has elements of graffiti using local typography that adds to the intensity of the portrait in the foreground. 

Abid invites the viewer to join him in observing these figures residing in his environment. A central or multiple figures are chosen to be highlighted in each painting. The compositions have elements of photography as he deliberately crops the frame and adds abstraction to the painting in the form of splashes, geometry and solid backgrounds. Some of the paintings have children that are directly looking out of the canvas at the viewer with an indiscernible expression that is both alienating and unpredictable. The viewer is drawn into a quest to know more about the identity and story behind each figure.

The artist is highly aware of the visual distortions that he has used to create his paintings. The fractal effect of blocking in the paint generates a digitised effect on the image. The painterly strokes are felt in the typography he blends into the figures. The viewer follows the strange visual cues in each painting that include stars, flowers, butterflies, lightning bolts and numbers. Through these symbols that surround the figure, the viewer is able to deeply understand the narrative assigned to each painting.     

His academic career started at SABS University of Arts, Design and Heritage Jamshoro which is a few hours away from Mirpurkhas. His work plays a crucial role in highlighting, celebrating and sharing personal histories belonging to his environment with a wider audience. Abid has been heavily involved in the development of the arts in the region. He is an inspiration for younger artists who are enrolled in the SABS University of Arts, Design and Heritage Jamshoro programme as he too is an alum of the institute. 

AJG Studio and Residency Mirpurkhas is a collaborative and open space that invites artists to be able to deeply engage with their practice by offering a state of the art facility at the heart of Mirpurkhas city. Their efforts to bring together artists from all over the country and focus on topics that are localised offer the chance to create authentic and passionate works that are based on the region. 

Abid Khalil Ansari is able to transport the viewer to his neighbourhood and is able to form an empathetic connection with his subjects. His exploration hopes to highlight struggle and perseverance through depictions of children that are resolute and stoic. The children in his paintings have mature body language indicating that they have spent time overcoming hardships and challenges. In a way, these paintings are self portraiture that allows the artist to share his own personal experiences.