Zahoor Ul Akhlaq, Rashid Rana and Muhammad Zeeshan are connected through an artistic lineage via the prestigious National College of Arts in Lahore. These artists revolutionized the centuries-old tradition of miniature painting involving meticulously crafted, small-scale paintings that illuminated texts or manuscripts. A closer look at the work of three diverse and highly talented Pakistani artists reveals how this indigenous tradition lives on in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Little Pictures, Big Impact: Rashid Rana
Ornate and highly-detailed pictorial constructions, Rashid Rana’s creative process involves meticulous attention to detail comparable to that of miniature painting. His brilliant collages of photo-images are wrought with intrigue and compelling tensions. From a distance, Red Carpet - 2 appears to be a pixelated image of a carpet. Closer inspection reveals a finely arranged collage of miniature photographs whose graphic content contrasts sharply with the refined beauty of the larger carpet. Rana photographed images in the Carpet series at a slaughterhouse in Lahore coincidentally the same day of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s return from exile. Experiencing the promise from Bhutto’s return, followed by a deep sense of despair at her assassination soon after, Rana was inspired to recreate a similar tension of distant beauty, de-sensitizing the up-close effect of shock and horror.
“I couldn’t help but connect the images I had seen in the slaughterhouse with the blood and gore on every single news channel. After that I knew I had to make art from the slaughterhouse images.” - Rashid Rana
Modernizing the Miniature: Zahoor ul Akhlaq and Muhammad Zeeshan
Zahoor ul Akhlaq engages the language of modernist abstraction in dialogue with the Islamic formalism of miniatures, while Muhammad Zeeshan uses highly detailed imagery of guns, rodents, or flowers to comment on issues of censorship and suppression in the post 9/11 world.
Modern & Contemporary Indian Art