Aisha Khalid: A Retrospective

Press Release

Aisha Khalid: A Retrospective
Chawkandi Art Gallery with the support of HBL is currently celebrating 28 years of Aisha Khalid’s career with large scale retrospective exhibition. Curated by Masuma Halai Khwaja, I AM AND I AM NOT spans three decades, exploring the art of one of Pakistan’s leading artists. A twenty-eight-year long practice, that begins with her formative years at art school up unto the present, specifically from 1994 to 2021, with works in the exhibition that allude to the future, as Khalid’s art continues to evolve. A remarkable journey, that is as much about her life and loves, as it is born of the socio-political context, in which her work is firmly rooted, the exhibition of seventy works, is spread across three venues, from the iconic Frere Hall to Chawkandi Art Gallery, and AAN Gandhara Art Space & Museum.

As a prominent woman artist, educationalist, agriculturalist and curator, Aisha Khalid has effortlessly advanced herself to become one of the most significant artists of her day. Since the nineteen-nineties Khalid has played a vital role in the contemporary neo-miniature movement, redefining miniature painting in Pakistan and its reception worldwide. Creating dramatic conflations of pattern and geometry that form a field of inquiry that is as much about power dynamics, specifically the North-South divide, as it is concerned with spiritual connections.

Having grown up in Shikarpur interior Sindh, Khalid’s worldview is deeply rooted in the history of the East. Indebted to the ancient vocabulary of Mughal Miniature, Khalid has extended the medium to video, in-situ installation, and immersive textile-based works that offer a critique of global politics and Orientalism, and for that Khalid’s contribution to the contemporary miniature paintings and Pakistani art is immeasurable. Having received her formal training as a miniature painter from the National College of Arts Lahore, she very quickly sought to stretch the boundaries of traditional miniature practice beyond its obvious limitations of scale and two-dimensionality, to include the physical and ephemeral elements of ‘space’, ‘time’ and ‘sound’ to her work. As Khalid challenges preexisting cultural and political frameworks, encouraging audiences to re-examine ideals. Her distinct imagery and visual vocabulary emerge from her own surroundings, influences and child- hood memories.

I Am and I Am Not
Gouache, gold and silver leaf on paper board
Diptych 64 X 96 inches

Completing her post-graduate studies at the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam, in 2002. Khalid went onto participate in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally, including the commission and acquisition project for King Abdul Aziz Centre, Ithra, Saudi Arabia, the APT Asia Pacific Triennial 2018 Queensland, Lahore Bien- nale 2018, SMK National Art Gallery/Museum 2016 Copenhagen, Aga Khan Museum 2014 Toronto, Moscow Biennale 2013, Sharjah Biennale 2011, Venice Biennial 2009, Fukuoka triennial 2001, Bag-e-Babur 2008 Kabul and in London, at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Whitworth Art Gallery Manchester, The Royal Academy and Modern Art Museum Arnhem, The Netherlands.

More recently in 2018 Khalid was commissioned to paint a vast mural, ‘You are the universe in ecstatic motion’, for Islamabad International Airport, situated in the departures lounge. Her work, including a series of commis- sions, is included in a number of leading museums and private collections all over the world.

Aisha Khalid’s retrospective entitled ‘I Am And I Am Not’ is intended to draw on her leading artworks, beginning with small-sized paintings, to full-scale installations, textile-based tapestries, video pieces, art books, to more recent works. As the retrospective offers an opportunity to survey the multidis- ciplinary approach of one of Pakistan’s most celebrated contemporary artists. Engaged in art that is as purposeful as it is poignant, as it proves purposeful, not only as an artist, but as an intellectual, with the creativity and courage to influence and inform thought processes, for audiences to absorb as well as appreciate eastern perspectives.

This major retrospective exhibition of Aisha Khalid I AM AND I AM NOT is accompanied by a catalogue.


Established in nineteen eighty-five, Founder of the Chawkandi Art Gallery, Zohra Husain has been pioneering in exerting the vision Pakistani art. This being the first retrospective exhibition of Aisha Khalid I AM AND I AM NOT, organized by the gallery Director Haider Husain.

Promoting the work of established as well as more emerging artists, Chawkandi has built a reputation based on an appreciation of the arts, as one of its leading gallerists in Pakistan. With many of the artists introduced by Chawkandi going on to become significant to the national and international art scene. With the gallery going onto represent and present the works of Zarina Hashmi, Zahoor Ul Aklaq, and Shahid Sajjad, three of the most influential artist of our time. Sajjad’s solo exhibition of woodcarving’s in nineteen ninety-four entitled “my primitives” regarded as a landmark event, and hailed as ‘the exhibition of the decade’. Chawkandi, with its extensive resource material has digitized and archived its database over the years, making it easily available to as wide an audience as possible.


HBL as an institution is a part of Pakistan’s fabric. As the oldest and largest bank in the country, we remain committed to nation-building. Art is a phenomena, which plays a critical role in the lives of people, its impact on society and its influence in shaping civilizations. It is incumbent on societies to recognize, the tremendous value of the arts and the need to honour and nurture artists. This is where the critical role of the patron comes in. Patrons become facilitators for artists to grow and develop. As a patron of art in Pakistan, HBL is committed to encouraging more opportunities for public’s engagement with art, as well as by celebrating the outstanding artists that the country has produced.

We at HBL are very proud to have sponsored Aisha Khalid’s major retrospective exhibition I AM AND I AM NOT at the Frere Hall, Karachi. Several artworks by Aisha Khalid from the HBL’s Art collection will be on display in the retrospective. The artworks in HBL’s Art collection cover Aisha Khalid’s practice from 2012 to 2021.