Curated for the website by Associate Editor, Ilona Yusuf
The following pieces are watercolour, graphite pencil and gouache on paper.
Alia Bilgrami is a Pakistani-Canadian visual artist and curator who loves writing in her spare time. Her contemporary miniature paintings are often combined with analogue photography techniques. The tulip has become a personal symbol in her art that stems from its fascinating history. As fate would have it, like the tulip, she has recently found a home in the Netherlands. Working with the notion of displacement, her artwork often expresses a duality—the simultaneous feeling of belonging and of being scattered—that translocation can bring. Bilgrami spent her early years in Montréal, Canada, and then Karachi, where she completed her BFA from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Karachi (2007). She did her MA from Central Saint Martins, London (2010). In 2008, she did a curatorial research internship at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Her work has been shown in many local and international exhibitions. One of her paintings won the Sovereign Asian Public Vote Prize, Hong Kong (2015). While she was at Central Saint Martins, her siyah qalam tulip won the Cecil Collins Memorial Award for Drawing (2010). In her professional life, Bilgrami has worked as assistant curator at Rohtas Gallery, then as curator at Khaas Gallery, Islamabad. In her almost ten years at Khaas (2010-19), she was instrumental in curating over a hundred exhibitions and became head curator towards the end of her tenure. She is experienced in curating contemporary exhibitions with a special focus on South Asia and has guest-curated a number of independent curatorial research projects in Pakistan, including at Koel Gallery and AAN-Gandhara Art Space (Karachi), as well as at the National Art Gallery (PNCA) in Islamabad. She has also attended several artists-in-residence programmes, most recently in Trélex, Switzerland (2020), where she spent six weeks working through key concepts and exploring new media. Bilgrami’s new series of work is part of the amazing #artistsupportpledge on Instagram that was initiated by the British artist, Matthew Burrows, and has now become a global movement.
More information about her work can be found at www.abilgrami.com.
Photo credit: Murad Yusuf