Faiza Butt

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Faiza Butt


Faiza Butt

Faiza Butt left her native Lahore for London to do her Master’s at Slade School of Art. Her work is highly articulate. Its narration is often based on news photographs of celebrities. She links these with images of everyday characters from ethnic minorities with a view to creating pictures of an ‘awkward utopia’.

The artist’s statement is as follows:

“My recent work deals with conflicts and issues surrounding identity as experienced by an outsider in a foreign land. The narrative in my work is derived from journalistic photographs of pop celebrities from newspapers and magazines. I fuse these images with everyday characters of ethnic minorities to create an odd or awkward utopian scenario. The aim is to raise questions like how and never, but why?

“I try to refer to the isolation that coexists between a ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture and between the native and the alien. My work touches a broad range of issues concerning the power of media and the printed image, role models, identity, cultural units and gender politics in contemporary western society. The surreal existence of individuals in Islamic drab beside western pop icons in my work highlights the assumed isolation that exists between the two.

“Perhaps being a sixth-form lecturer in central London for many years has provoked me to address these issues. The presumed void and contrast about the sterile interests of the Islamic youth and fun-loving rock ‘n’ roll western entertainment culture creates divisions and sub-cultural units. The ever decreasing cross-cultural interaction and negative assumptions, generated by a right-wing media, is damaging the core of an ethnically diverse Britain.

“With two infants to care for, the struggle to continue her studio practice in London has been most daunting for Faiza Butt. Returning home to Lahore this year, her visit coincided with Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. Deeply affected by the traumatic public aftermath, Faiza also dwelt upon the alarming intervention of weaponry in our world. Not surprisingly, her work is concerned with instruments of violence.”

“My process stems out of larger debates concerning the hierarchy of painting as a supreme activity, within the two-dimensional art practice. While studying at Slade, the gender-based supremacy of art mediums incited the ‘anti-painting’ instinct in me. The shocking influence of abstract expressionists on the western abstract painting traditions stays as a challenge in my artistic psyche.

“I am forever intrigued by the redefinition and analysis of paint as a physical substance as discussed in Richter, Pollock and Kandinsky’s work and ‘mock’ use these traditions in my own work. I try to subvert the tradition of drawing serving as a preliminary process towards something real and physical. I ‘draw’ paintings rather than construct them. I use felt-tip pens (a lesser or common medium) to recreate photographic images in tiny dots on architect’s film mounted on transparent acrylic sheets.

“The meticulously drawn coloured dots not only replace paint, but also hover somewhere between a drawing and a painting. Lastly, the immaculately drawn surface is marred with splashes of enamel paint, not only as decorative scarring of the surface but also to mock the clichés of abstract painting practice.

“The surface plays the role of an object and challenges the identity divisions between painting and sculpture. My work extends on to the edge of the surface as well as pours and extends out of the work on to the gallery wall. I believe the theme of process of my work binds together as a challenge towards the established norms at social and artistic level in our contemporary British society.”

Justice league, mixed-media on mylar

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