Muhammad Zeeshan

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Works at : Seoul Art Space_Geumcheon
Stays in : 2013

2003 BFA Miniature Painting National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan

2012 5th Contemporary Art Biennale, Baku, Azerbaijan
Special 'Siri' Series, Aicon Gallery, New York, USA
Lines of Control, Herbert F Jhonson Museum of Art, New York, USA
2010 Beyond the Page, Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, USA
Dying Miniature, Green Cardamom, London, UK
Safavids Revisited, British Museum, London, UK
2008 Afghanistan: Future, Gemak/Gemeentemuseum, Holland
2006 Lila/Play:Contemporary Miniatures and new art from South Asia, Span Galleries, Melbourne, Australia
2004 Contemporary Miniature Paintings from Pakistan, Fukouka Asian Art Museum, Japan
Dying miniature, gouache on wasli, 47.5x30cm(each), 2008

Wait, gouache on wasli, 52x67cm, 2008

In God We Trust, reflective sticker on mounting card with flicker light, 70x95cm, 2007

Flag ceremony, video of installation, 3minutes, 2007

On Indefinitness "performance", gouache on wasli with glass box and ink on water, 70x55cm, 2008

Un renderng the rendering, screen printing on a printed image with scratched pigment, 25x20cm, 2009 

Muhammad Zeeshan

I am interested in the pedagogics of a school of thought. As a trained miniature
painter I try to re-visit the basic instructions of learning ‘art’. This involves
borrowing ‘iconic high art’ images to ‘practice’ drawing in order to understand
the principals and elements of sketching.

The Social Turn
Seher Naveed Art Writer and (Senior Lecturer of Fine Arts at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture)
Born in Mirpurkhas, Muhammad Zeeshan’s training in the arts began at a very young age. He was only 12 years old when he began working at a commercial painting shop as a cinema board painter. In 2000, he joined The National College of Art where he trained in miniature and sculpture, and graduated with a BFA in 2003.
Influenced by Mughal miniature, there lies an undercurrent of violence in Zeeshan’s beautifully crafted imageries. His interests lie in the domain of questioning contemporary miniature painting. And therefore, based on the basic principal of copying (an integral part of learning the technique of miniature painting), Zeeshan’s work often involves borrowing imagery from other art works.
In <Dying Miniature>, Zeeshan steps away from traditional methods, and instead explores the idea of miniature as a dying art form. Using coarse sandpaper in place of the absolute smooth surface of a wasli, he rubs layer upon layer of graphite pencil onto its surface till the final image looks meticulously burnished. Visually tranquil the extraordinary encounter of graphite and sandpaper is aggressive and destructive in nature. The imageries evoke a sense of violence suggesting that drawing itself is also a residuum of attrition and residue. The series can be best described as an institutional critique of miniature painting- whereby the only visible ‘miniature’ aspect of the work are the subjects, the structured silvery silhouettes and poses of which are evidently distinctive of the Mughal-era paintings.
In recent years contemporary art in Pakistan has evolved bringing to light critical and analogical materialization of the many miniature practices. By constantly striving to break away from the traditional norms of miniature painting Zeeshan often employs new technologies in his work. His practice highlights his interest in popular culture and how it influences aesthetics- Thus focusing primarily on experimenting with material and surface manipulation. His most recent works involve experimenting with laser machines. Fascinated with the drawing like marks attained using laser technology, Zeeshan uses laser scoring to draw with a burnt line. Using the machine on its lowest setting so the laser leaves but a mark on the waslithe visuals comprise of a million fine lines of what are essentially burn marks with impeccable detail. In his special ‘siri series’, Zeeshan addresses the cultural and historical significance of beheadings. The imagery includes decapitated heads of male humans and animals. Painted in gouache and complemented by a laser score on wasli, the ‘siri series’ depicts the time when beheadings were accepted as symbols of victory and power, in stark contrast to the connotations of barbarianism it is now identified with. Like graphite on sand paper here lies a parallel conflict- a similar violence that underpins Zeeshan’s practice to the current socio-political events and religious upheaval in Pakistan.
His work is part of various collections including Fakouka Asian art museum in Japan, Asal collection in London, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and in 2010 his book work titled <A Colligation (isolated facts)> was acquired by the British Museum as part of their permanent collection
Today, Zeeshan is at the forefront of miniature. From simple painting on wasli his work has evolved to include pop up like facades, cut outs and installations using video and other digital technology. His ‘miniaturized’ images are illustrative in nature and are narratives put together often suggesting an event, a happening or a thought. Focusing on interactionist methods, Zeeshan’s practice revolves around urban interventions and public art, allowing person-to-person exchange and communication.