Very few people possess true artistic ability and Faiza Butt is one of those Pakistani London based artists whose art speaks for itself. Born in Lahore and after studying in NCA, Faiza emerged as one of Pakistan’s foremost contemporary artist.  Her art is intricate and always reflects a message which relates to social and political scenario. When you look up at her pieces, a person goes in a deep thought and her art makes you curious to know what is going in her mind and what is the concept behind her work is. The artist thematically deals with masculinity, violence and religion attempting to understand each through a feminist lens. Constantly aware of gender and identity issues and her role as a female artist, she envisages a political motive for her art which is experiential and universal at the same time. She derives a lot of her imagery from popular culture. In an exclusive interview with Sunday Plus Faiza talks about her work, life and experiences as an artist. 

“My mother wanted to study art but her parents didn’t allow her to study in co education so she expressed her talent in another formal art form which was fine arts. I really believe that artists are self born. Either you are born with this or not. I was born to be an artist. An artist is not only able to draw or to record life very well but also the details they notice they are into it. I use to draw things, tell stories through my drawings, so my mother acknowledges it and celebrated it. She made sure to send in an art school. There was no objection that what kind of environment I am going to step in. My parents were very liberal. For their daughters they always wanted best.” Faiza says. 

Talking about her journey from NCA to be an artist and her inspirations Faiza tell, “As I said before that artist are self born but the exposure and skills are limited until and unless you practice it through a proper platform so an art school is a tuition, mentoring and the fusion of a lot of thing that refines your ideas or give you the skills to express them.”

“When I was in NCA my whole year of contemporary art was fantastic. My contemporaries are all very grown artist now like Imran Qureshi and Resham. They were the group of people I look at their work and I understand what they are trying to do and they understand me. I don’t have one name which I follow. Surprisingly I like those artists whom work is different from me. The western artists I like are Peter doig, Gerard Richter, Donald Judd, Grayson Perry and Tracey Emin.  There is one person, my teacher Mrs Salima Hashmi at NCA who was my mentor. If I ever had to dedicate my career I would dedicate to her.” She adds.  

While defining her art work, the inspiring artist says that she cannot sum it up in one line. “I have always discussed gender ship in my art. When I talk about human sexuality it means the sense of living, the human condition being alive so I always say my work is about gender, cross culture issues and human conditions”

For work, Faiza usually takes ideas and inspirations from her life and her surroundings.  She thinks that contemporary art or great art is based on what an artist saw in society like some of the greatest art work of Pablo Picasso which is said that it hasn’t happened unless the Spanish civil war happened.

“Sometimes a tardy sharpens the ideas and mind of an artist and teaches him. I hope that I am very aware of whats happening in the world, how much divided and how we are suffering and I connect that morality with similarity. I think my work is personalized. All the things which are connected to my life, my children, my role as a mother, woman and as an artist, they are all over there. My thinking process starts from a different way. My work sounds for photographic and journalistic images which are meant for propaganda and influencing people. I did say this thing in my talk that we believe artists are superior and they change the thinking of people and influence them but really and truly this is where you find your work of communicating, quite often it is understood by only selected code of people.”

The brilliant artist also thinks that the success of an art piece is that how it engages you.  “The core of my practice and work is that my work should not display any of my ego or my ideology which other could not connect. People often give their perception to the piece and my aim is that my work demands little more of that. So I make tracks which engage vision.  If someone would understand my work and it is accessible to everyone that is my success.” 

She also manages to tell us about her family. “I am mother of two children Zack and Layla. I am a parent and sometimes I juggle with my work. So I am always switching myself according to all this. I tried to be that mother which I didn’t have and someone said look this is not what they need, they need a normal mother don’t repeat those things which happened to you.  I have given them a set of rules in a very settle way. The most important thing I am teaching them is to don’t believe and practice faith, you should respect it and to be truly progressive and a deep thinker don’t compare your ideology with others.  And one thing I believe is to practice humanity. When you practice this then I think you follow your religion.”

Faiza explains her perspective behind one of her painting about 9/11 as she was also one of them who witnessed the changes that occur after this incident in the lives of people and she captured all those memories in a very artistic way in her painting. This was one the painting which inspires a lot of people. 

“After 9/11 I saw a shift in society and culture changing especially in west , this incident recreated a shift in foreign policy at grass rot level like visa, travelling and airport rules. Societies were divided and there was aggressiveness in humanity. This has an impact which was an American thing to dramatize in settle term which they say they are living every day.  I see the hypocrisy so as an artist who has a very rational sense to be fair made me uncomfortable of this entire situation and when you are in minority things became little harder for us. The media war was started. Questions against Islam were raised. Some people also started questioning me and when I cleared them the things they don’t believe that so there was a war of disbelieving and extremism was raising. So my painting was all about this context.” she explicates.

She also shares her experience to be the part of Lahore Literature Festival. “This festival is making history. It’s unique. It reminds me of that Lahore which I have lost. It is so well attended that so many people came. It’s the growth of the culture. The festival showed the true face of Pakistan. Very well managed and I am overwhelmed of love the get from here.” 

Faiza is going to showcase her work in UK at New art exchange. The exhibition title ‘Paracosm’. Not many of the Pakistani artists get this sort of opportunity but she is the lucky one who gets this chance. The exhibition will explore her practice over two decades and will be comprised of a rich collection ranging from drawings to digital prints, light works and sculptural installation.