Artist in Focus: Sana Arjumand

Sana Arjumand graduated from the National College of Arts, Lahore, in 2005, with painting as her major. She was an assistant lecturer at the National College of Arts, Rawalpindi, from 2007-2009 and received a high achievers award from Cambridge University for art and sociology in her Advanced Levels.


Sana Arjumand

Art practice

Sana Arjumand’s work speaks of a rare delight in the natural world. Enigmatic creatures are profiled on her canvases, especially the mythic Hoopoe bird. As she notes in her artist’s statement, 'As children, we were told stories of the mystical Hoopoe bird, how it was the messenger to King Solomon, a close friend and confidant who also brought the news of the Queen of Sheba. We are taught that the Hoopoe bird is symbolic of a high spiritual station and amongst the Sufi tradition it is said the feather crown on its head represents the ultimate Truth.’ Her project for the Karachi Biennale, takes this investigation into the world of Sufism and birds, into richer territories.


KB19 work

My creative process begins with a blank state. A place that is a very important point to begin. In this point of nothingness there is no judgement and no discrimination, it’s a neutral place, yet a place of love. The state helps whatever is flowing through me, flow out into being with ease. I have an eclectic playlist that supports this process and helps my systems align to this process. There are times I will make multiple sketches to bring out what I can and choose from among my drawings what I want to transfer on to a bigger canvas. Also, at times I will go with the flow and see what comes directly on the canvas.


I use all sorts of media to help inspiration come. Over the years I have collected feathers and made videos of birds flying in various heights. My sketch books have inspirational phrases, there will be notes on my phone, screen shots of spiritual messages, sufi kalaams. I like to use the bird form because they have purity about them, a rawness to their truth.


The body of work showing at the Karachi Biennale is titled ‘Presence.' I speak of extinction and how the extinction of morals, values and character have led us to this point and we are indeed in a place of darkness within and that is why we see it outside, in the form of the current state of the planet. Selfishness has blocked our vision to see the bigger picture of where we are headed. From the fires in the Amazon to the fires in Africa, the underlying cause is one: the state of human consciousness.



Preview of Sana Arjumand's KB19 work


Previous work: Since her graduation, Sana has exhibited in Pakistan and internationally. In 2007, she participated in a number of group shows, including Drawings of the Soul at the University of Sunderland, Lantern of the East, 17th Pyeong Paek International Art Festival at the Nake Art Museum, Korea, 361 Hours of Dialogue at the Broadway Gallery, Amman, Jordan, and Figurative Art Pakistan at the Aicon Gallery in London. In 2008, her work was shown at the Dubai Art Fair, Hong Kong Art Fair, East West Center, Hawaii, as well as in solo shows at the Canvas Gallery and Gallery 6 in Pakistan. In 2011, her work was shown at Dubai Art Fair by Aicon Gallery and she participated in four group shows in New York and Pakistan. Sana received extensive media coverage for her show in Delhi, India, titled Love is a Four Letter Word at Gallery Latitude 28. Sana has had solo shows at the Mary Place Gallery, Sydney, and Canvas Gallery, Karachi in 2013 and she participated in the Dubai Art Fair and a group show in Mumbai, India. Sana has been lauded by Art Info as one of the “Top Ten Rising Stars in Pakistan and India”. She was also featured in articles by The Friday Times, Blue Chip, Hello! Pakistan, Niche, Indian Times and Art Now.