Waseem Ahmed - Artist Bio

In his studio, the esteemed Pakistani miniature artist Waseem Ahmed stands poised over a captivating work-in-progress, surrounded by a diverse array of meticulously arranged painting supplies, offering a captivating glimpse into his unwavering commitment to the intricate art form. 

In his studio, amid meticulously arranged art materials, the esteemed Miniature Artist Waseem Ahmed stands over a work-in-progress Miniature Painting, exemplifying his dedication to the craft.

In a Few Words

Born In: 1976, Hyderabad, Pakistan

Lives In: Lahore, Pakistan

Background: Born in 1976 in Hyderabad, Pakistan, Waseem Ahmed's artistic journey is rooted in the rich tapestry of his family's history, with roots tracing back to their migration from India to Sindh, Pakistan, during the tumultuous partition in 1947. Growing up as a Muhajir (immigrant) in Sindh, Ahmed experienced firsthand the complexities of identity and belonging, which deeply inform his art, a poignant exploration of societal injustices and human resilience. Now based in Lahore, Ahmed stands as a luminary among Pakistan's miniature artists, crafting intricate works that serve as poignant reflections on contemporary issues, igniting conversations and sparking change with each stroke of his brush.

Style & Media: The artist effortlessly blends ancient Mughal customs with contemporary subtleties and inventive methods, seamlessly integrating the traditional medium of gouache with pure gold leaf to showcase his precision and artistic mastery. Ahmed asserts that the artistic essence of Miniature Painting is governed by the principles of perspective, pigment, technique, simplification, and natural elements. The art of Miniature Painting possesses its own intricate language and has evolved over time, while still maintaining its fundamental principles, like any other field of study. Ahmed's artwork has graced prestigious museums, galleries, and esteemed private collections worldwide, firmly establishing his prominence in the realm of contemporary Miniature Painting.

 Themes: Waseem Ahmed's art transcends borders to offer a nuanced exploration of contemporary issues. Ahmed incorporates symbolic motifs like Mullahs and lush gardens adorned with celestial beings and calligraphy, reflecting the complexities of our world. Drawing from diverse cultural and historical sources, Ahmed's evocative imagery sheds light on shared societal challenges amidst conflict, violence, and displacement faced by Eastern and Western societies.

In a Few More Words

Waseem Ahmed, a prominent figure in today's art world, embodies a harmonious fusion of tradition and innovation in his exceptional Miniature Paintings. Born in 1976 in Hyderabad, Pakistan, Ahmed's upbringing in a Muhajir family deeply influenced his artistic trajectory, fostering a profound awareness of social tensions stemming from his family's migration during the Partition of India in 1947. Reflecting on his formative years, Ahmed recalls witnessing firsthand the conflicts between Sindhi and Muhajir communities, experiencing numerous traumatic incidents of public violence. These experiences fueled his deep-seated desire to articulate his anguish and vehemently oppose social attitudes that perpetuate suppression, hatred, and bloodshed.

Ahmed's artistic mastery shines in his intricate portrayal of contemporary themes within the realm of Miniature Art. Employing recurring motifs like serene depictions of Mullahs, symbolic gardens representing paradise, and veiled women, he delves into themes of terrorism and fear, captivating viewers with his meticulous craftsmanship and profound symbolism. By virtue of his innate artistic gift bestowed upon him by a divine power, Ahmed adeptly conveys the contradictory nature of human desires and the fleeting essence of life.

Ahmed earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) with a specialization in Miniature Painting from the National College of Arts (NCA) in Lahore in 2000. His thought-provoking creations have garnered international recognition and are exhibited globally. The artist's unwavering commitment to preserving and rejuvenating the tradition of Miniature Painting is evident through his passionate efforts to mentor and nurture emerging artists. He served as a visiting lecturer at NCA from 2005 to 2008, imparting his knowledge and expertise to the next generation of visual creators. Ahmed suggests that Miniature Painting is his favoured mode of expression and his chosen specialization due to its unique ability to portray intricate themes with nuanced delicacy. He explains, "I chose miniature painting as my medium to express myself because this was the only medium where I could portray negative subjects in a beautiful delicate, intricate way, or I should say in a lighter mood I could express my very loud thoughts."

Ahmed's exploration spans from religious rhetoric to global conflicts, demonstrating his astute observation of the ever-evolving world. Drawing from the tumultuous experiences in both Eastern and Western societies, his artwork offers a poignant commentary on the complexities of the contemporary era. "My inspiration primarily stems from ordinary individuals in my daily interactions, such as shopkeepers, milkmen, electricians, plumbers, and the imam of the mosque where I pray. Even while traveling, I engage with people to understand their perspectives on current social and political issues. I keenly observe how these individuals adapt to the shifting social, religious, and political landscapes. My aim is to bridge the gap between the thoughts of intellectuals and the common people I encounter in my everyday life."

Waseem has actively participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions, both nationally and internationally. Notably, he achieved recognition as a top 10 finalist for the Sovereign Asian Art Prize in 2012 and 2013. His artistic endeavors have been featured in various esteemed publications, including works by Salima Hashmi, Virginia Whiles, Ali Salwat, Athar Tahir, and Rukhsana David. Furthermore, his artworks have been auctioned at renowned houses such as Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Bonhams, garnering attention and acclaim. Impressively, his pieces are also housed in the private collections of prestigious institutions like the Asian Art Museum (Museum für Asiatische Kunst), Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, and the British Museum in London.

In 2014, Ahmed reached a significant milestone when he was selected as one of the inaugural artists-in-residence at the Museum für Asiatische Kunst in Berlin, actively engaging in the Humboldt Lab Dahlem initiative. As part of this endeavor, he was assigned the responsibility of producing four new artworks to spark dialogue with the museum’s collection. These pieces were then displayed at the conclusion of Ahmed’s residency, alongside a selection of his previous works.

Waseem Ahmed's artistic path serves as a clear example of how art profoundly addresses urgent societal matters. With his enchanting miniature creations, he consistently ignites introspection, nurtures dialogue, and challenges entrenched beliefs, leaving an indelible mark on the ever-evolving canvas of contemporary art.

Key Exhibitions

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

  • Delusional Perceptions, Gowen Contemporary Sàrl, Geneva, Switzerland (2023)
  • Ambivalence, Sanat Initiative, Karachi, Pakistan (2021)
  • Waseem Ahmed, Jason McCoy Gallery, New York, USA (2020)
  • Waseem Ahmed: Partnership with Gowen Contemporary Sàrl, Contemporary Istanbul Art Fair, Istanbul, Turkey (2019)
  • Phase Transitions, Gowen Contemporary Sàrl, Geneva, Switzerland (2018)
  • Contemporary Miniatures, Jason McCoy Gallery, New York, USA (2017)
  • Insinuation, Waseem Ahmed: Partnership with Gowen Contemporary Sàrl, Art Brussels, Brussels, Belgium (2017)
  • Waseem Ahmed: Partnership with Gowen Contemporary Sàrl, Beirut Art Fair, Beirut, Lebanon (2016)
  • In the Name of Faith, Chawkandi Art Gallery, Karachi, Pakistan (2015)
  • Dahlem Karkhana: Curated by Martina Stoye, Asian Art Museum (Museum für Asiatische Kunst), Berlin, Germany (2014/2015)
GROUP EXHIBITIONS

  • Mapping India: Colonialism, Nationalism, and the Partition of South Asia, Whitman College: Maxey Museum, Washington, USA (2023)
  • Conjunction of the Spheres, Delhi Contemporary Art Week (DCAW), Bikaner House, Delhi, India (2023)
  • Treasure Along the Silk Road, W.ONESPACE Gallery, Shenzhen, China (2023)
  • Lahore-Colombo, O Art Space, Lahore, Pakistan (2023) 
  • Figure 23, Gallery 6, Islamabad, Pakistan (2023)
  • Reexamine / Retrace 2.0, O Art Space, Lahore, Pakistan (2023)
  • Art SG: Partnership with Latitude 28, Sands Expo & Convention Centre, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore (2023)
  • The Other Side of Silence: Collaboration with Maria Waseem, Dar Al-Anda, Amman Jordan (2022)
  • Delhi Contemporary Art Week (DCAW): Partnership with Latitude 28, Bikaner House, New Delhi, India (2022)
  • Art Fest Karachi, Government of Sindh: Culture Department, Karachi, Pakistan (2022)
  • India Art Fair: Partnership with Latitude 28, New Delhi, India (2022)
  • Art Dubai: Partnership with Latitude 28, Dubai, UAE (2022)