Risham Syed draws on the refined tradition of South Asian miniature painting. Since the 1980s, this art form has seen a revival in Pakistan, particularly centred around the National College of Arts in Lahore where students are taught the refined tradition and artists have reworked the medium into new forms. 

Departing from the figure as a central motif in miniature painting, Syed concentrates on empty, in-between spaces around her native city, Lahore. This ancient city traces its origins to pre-historic myths, and has seen many transformations under Turkish, Mughal and British rule. Yet, in recent decades the city has been developing and growing faster than ever.

Risham Syed’s paintings from her ‘Lahore’ series focus on the backs of buildings that appear blank, faceless, indeterminate.

She deliberately chooses sites that will be transformed by impending development and are not intended to be seen. They are temporary spaces and, by capturing and freezing them in these delicate paintings, Syed frames the space of change.

‘It’s the new Lahore that perhaps a person like me who has experienced the old city while growing up cannot fathom. New upper middle class quarters have emerged hurriedly over-night. I have chosen to paint the back walls of these houses that are left unfinished, usually simply cemented or covered in tar.’ [Risham Syed]

‘These post-card sized paintings in acrylic question the tradition and subject matter of the history of oil painting and play on the eighteenth/nineteenth century idea of possessing exotic landscapes through painting. These postcards can be potentially carried around in a purse.’ [Risham Syed]
'The 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art' (APT8)
Credits: Story

Since 1993, The Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT) has been the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art's flagship contemporary art series. APT has driven the Gallery's focus on the region and enabled the development of one of the world's most significant collections of contemporary Asian, Pacific and Australian art.

'The 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art' (APT8)
21 November 2015 – 10 April 2016
©QAGOMA

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