Ujala Khan, is a Lahore based architect turned artist recently who we met at a solo exhibition at My Art World gallery in F7/2 Islamabad. The gallery regularly hosts exhibitions for established artists and encourages them to manage their own portfolios and price their own work.
Ms. Khan’s series called Catharsis, consisted of acrylic and enamel paintings of abstract nature. Before this, she has presented her work in several group shows such as Covert Conversations, The Space Between, (Fashion for Education, Art for Education and Pop-up Display; all at My Art World, Islamabad. Catharsis was her first solo show at a gallery.
Speaking of her reasons for stepping into the art world she said, “It started out as a form of self-expression. It was all just meant to be very therapeutic.”
Despite having completed a bachelors in architecture Ms. Khan said that she had left all her technical knowledge aside when it came to her paintings. “Of course I did know about colors, symmetry and things like the Golden Ratio but when I was making art it was just all for me. I decided to only do what I wanted to do to fully express my emotions.” She said.
She said that it had been her friends who pushed her to pursue art as a profession. She didn’t think she’d want to make art for any other reasons but her friends insisted. They would submit her portfolio to places without her knowing and she would get offers out of nowhere. Her experiences with painting for charity especially proved to help her growth as a professional artist.
“My friends’ support really meant a lot to me they’re the ones that really pushed me to do this.”
Ms. Khan said that the response she got from Islamabad for Catharsis was extremely gratifying for her. It was heartwarming to see people come up to her and appreciate her work at a solo show.
Speaking of the series she explained that she found inspiration for it in Arthur Rimbaud’s poem “A Season in Hell”. The juxtaposition of colors and textures led to her creating decentralized pieces that had no focal point. The paintings were meant to been seen as a catalyst for buried emotions and unleashing the subconscious mind.
“I just wanted to create some bold and expressive work that people could take whatever they want from.” She said.
Of course the life of an artist does come with its struggles. Ms. Khan explained how she had to put together the finances for her art supplies and work for days in the Lahore heat in her studio that had no cooling system at the time.
“But it was all worth it. When I pick up a brush and a palette it takes me somewhere else entirely. It gives me a sense of liberation that I’m grateful for.”
She expressed her hopes that more and more galleries would give opportunities to aspiring artists and not just wait around for established artists. “I really want to do something to get them all together.”