Objects from the Deep

Kochi Muziris Biennale 2016
Art Basel Hong Kong 2017

The drawings in this series reflect on the sedimented nature of objects. The intimate pull between object, material and nature fuses and erases differences of place and identity, and becomes a site of confluence and transformation.

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The Journey We Never Made

Kochi Muziris Biennale 2016-17

The Journey We Never Made explores multiple complexities in the chains of creative production in South Asian art. The project reflects on the ways in which an object, invested with multiple layers of production, can offer divergent narratives on our relationship to history and economies of production.  The artist gave scale drawings of nautical vessels to local artisans, who make inexpensive handmade souvenir boats to sell. The drawings were re-interpreted by the artisans in their vernacular idiom, reflecting diverse influences drawn from local culture and traditions. These vessels, both historic and contemporary, have plied the Indian Ocean on journeys of conquest and trade that have shaped the histories, economies and geographies of the region.  Installation | Project research Karachi

The Concrete Folly

Nature Morte, Delhi 2016
Colombo Art Biennale 2016

This series of screen prints is based on the artist’s archive of photographic images of Manora Island and the geography of urban Karachi. It references the built structures on the island, some under construction, others derelict, linked by the materiality of concrete and the gestural quality of their casting.  The work seeks to explore the way in which these structures create a space around them, constituting the landscape as a site of memory, a living archive of embodied experience. 

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Undoing / Ongoing

Rossi & Rossi, London 2015
Nature Morte, Delhi 2016

Images and objects have travelled back and forth, between the making of the work itself and the way it connects with new contexts. Ideas of dwelling, and movement, boundaries, and the breaching of borders, emerge central to the current body of work.

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The Weight of Things | 2014

Koel Gallery, Karachi & Khaas Gallery, Islamabad

In this body of work, the artist continues to draw upon her engagement with the fragile landscape of Karachi and its surrounding coastal terrain. Khan explores a range of visual motifs, including the sea itself; the city’s urban landscape and its architectonic detail; the horizon line and mutually bound memory-objects; as well as historic document and journal text. Rooted in an intensive drawing practice, her work builds towards an embodied consciousness of place. In doing so, Khan’s art suggests a rich fluency between personal subjectivity and public discourse. [Text by the curator, Maha Malik]

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Disrupting the Alignment | 2014

Cooper Gallery, Dundee

Naiza Khan’s first major solo exhibition in Scotland was a filmic installation that incorporated the histories, myths and the ephemeral but always recurring spirit of a place. This exhibition was set to depict and re-inscribe the “interrupted geography” of Karachi and the near by Manora Island.

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Karachi Elegies | 2013

Eli and Edythe Broad Museum, Michigan

At the heart of Khan’s work is an archaeological impulse to explore how objects speak eloquently of human experience… It is also the principle that drives her to explore landscapes in which ruins of the past are overlaid by stories that indicate the continuing hold of history on the present. Khan’s work primarily relates to her immediate context in Pakistan, but it captures a sense of uncertainty that is broadly felt across the world.Karin Zitzewitz, Guest Curator Broad Museum, Michigan

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9th Shanghai Biennale: Reactivation | 2012

Power Station of Art, Shanghai

The Manora Archive  attempts to re-assemble and recount the array of found objects, photographs and video works I have taken over a period of time. The visual research is multi-sourced. It suggests the building of a new terrain, which comes out of the collective memory of this community. There are unscripted and unresolved links between different aspects of the Island space and its ruptured history. The accumulative process of mapping the Island has evolved in an intuitive, embodied manner.

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Shifting Ground


The ‘Karachi elegies’ represent what the artist calls a “disrupted geography”. Enclosed in a kind of amorphous cloud, her city is both real and mythical, opening the portal to a uniquely intense and surreal dynamic. Constant social upheaval makes the continuity of life there unpredictable and unstoppable. Mushrooming developments, labour force migrations, and sanguineous turf wars are transforming both the foregrounds and backgrounds of public experience. Extract from catalogue essay Shifting Ground by Rosa Maria Falvo 2011 

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 Restore the Boundaries - The Manora Project


Neither fully inhabited, not completely ruined, Manora is a compelling and painful which stretches of sensory emptiness and rupture are suddenly punctuated by functioning defence establishments, historic structures and local life. Perhaps due to the processual and uneven character of Manora’s ongoing transformation, the artist has chosen to adopt a longer-term experimental approach in this project, deploying a variety of media and aesthetic strategies...Extract from catalogue essay Manora’s Fraught Trajectories.

by  Iftikhar Dadi 

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The Skin She Wears


Naiza's work explores boundaries - not boundaries as divisions or clear demarcations but rather as the crossing point, the transformative space, the neither-this-nor-that. These are works of midnight, created in in-betweenness. The spark that ignites them (and us, the viewers) arises from the friction between different perspectives which resist the easiness of a compromise resolution. Extract from catalogue essay The Dreams Descend by Kamila Shamsie 2008 

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Iron Clouds


The imaginative wonder of the paradox that is ‘iron clouds’ draws our attention to inward spaces.  Where can we find ‘iron clouds’?  In emotional landscapes, in metaphorical arenas, in the suggestive spaces for contemplation. The works...don’t merely exist within the imagination; they call our attention to imagination itself.  What is the quality of our interior landscapes?  What do they reveal of the world outside and the world within, the possibilities destroyed and revealed and still-in-the-making? Extract from catalogue essay The Dreams Descend by Kamila Shamsie 2008 

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Heavenly Ornaments


For over a decade, Naiza Khan has developed her artistic practice by a persistent formal and thematic meditation on the female body.  She has charted an exemplary independent path among the shifting currents of contemporary Pakistani art, producing an extended body of work exploring the sensuality of the female body, but also its weight, its opacity and its recalcitrance in relation to eh social order.Extract from catalogue essay, Allegories of Encounter.

by Iftikhar Dadi 

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bare the fact/bear the fact


Subtexts emanate like shooting stars in Naiza Khan’s works on paper.  She invents curious affinities between apparently unconnected – disparate, objects. Provocative alliances are formed, invoking manifold messages and potential contradictions. Naiza Khan’s lexicon is not entirely instinctual. She researches, deliberates and draws from historical, visual sources as far apart as Rembrandt and Utamaro. 

Extract from catalogue essay by Salima Hashmi 2006 

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Naiza seems to stretch the medium of drawing to a place where the work necessitates the need to stretch our capacities for emotion and feeling.  Not only to make sense of the work but, also to engage in and reaffirm our subjective sensibilities as the most reliable guide to the conditions of our existence.

Extract from catalogue essay by Mamduh Waheed 2004

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Henna Hands | 2003 

Site-specific project; Cantonment Railway Station, Karachi

I realized as I worked, that I had to follow a different set of rules and the material properties were fundamental in guiding the nature of the work.  These materials relied on gesture, the temporal, and the conceptual.

Naiza H Khan 

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Gasworks Residency


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1996 Hair Falls as Night

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La Linea Negra 


In the work there are two streams of thought running parallel. These are not separate issues, but inextricably linked and need to be seen together. Firstly, the drawings... begin to function in a conceptually wider context- beyond the studio environment. Secondly, the non-figurative work has its origins in the sense of perception... In this way, the silk organza piece is the first in my search for materials that embody the notion of vulnerability, the feeling of sensuality. Naiza Khan September 1995

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Voices Merge + Selected Drawings and Paintings


Voices Merge breaks away from standard exhibition practice because it offers a new viewing experience. The artist has tried to create an ambience similar to her personal studio within the gallery by displaying her drawings, installations, text and henna prints in the same gradual progression as they evolved in her studio over a period of four years.

Extract from Agonised by Heroic by Salwat Ali; The Review, Dawn, October 2000

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1993 Points of Departure

Naiza calls herself a figurative painter but her images are like presences without corporeal form. They emerge from and disappear into surfaces of their own which are their exits and entrances. These creature come from a frontier where the invisible and visible are both real. One as possibility, the other as realisation of possibility.  What Naiza presents is the anatomy of her art.

Extract from Shadow Work by Akbar Naqvi; Herald, November 1993

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Ruskin Works | 1987–90

Drawing and prints from Naiza's years at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, University of Oxford.

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