Miniature painting -the global traumas narrated by Saira Wasim

Saira Wasim is a prominent Pakistani miniaturist. I found a link to her website hidden in my unread emails. Some of her recent paintings are terrific. The image on the left is borrowed from here.

Anna Sloan, art historian, writes:

“Teeming with figures captured in mid-action, paintings by Saira Wasim present grand narratives. If it weren’t for their petite size and two-dimensionality, they might be mistaken for Greek mythology, Baroque opera, epic film, or other monumental genres. Yet, these small paintings represent a singular creation, one that transcends any individual medium or genre. In Wasim’s hands, the centuries-old format of the miniature painting has been transformed into a stage for human drama, a jam-packed cinematic space that approaches the grandeur of Cecil B. DeMille and the glamour of Bollywood. Like the protagonists of such grand genres, Wasim’s characters gesticulate, prance, shoot, and fly in majestic style. They laugh and boast in hideous fashion, and morph into grotesque hybrid creatures that hint at transcendent themes of good and evil.”

For instance see this powerful representation displayed on her website with the lyrical title, Lamentation of Innocence (Genocide),2005


One of the paintings –  Buzkashi – narrates a tale of contemporary Pakistan. The depiction of political and social undercurrents may be “subjective” but her work surely adds a new dimension to political art from Pakistan. Wasim’s websites states: “Buzkashi (literally means “goat-grabbing”) is an ancient game, national sports of Afghanistan and also played in many parts of North West Pakistan. It’s also called wildest game on earth. Here ‘Buzkashi’ is a metaphor of Pakistani politics, where every leader grabs for control of the country and every stronger wants to rule the weaker …”

The image on the left – Friendship After 11 September 1, (2001) found here – contextualizes and comments on the close relationship between Pakistan’s President General Musharraf and the US President after 9/11. There is an eclectic mix of realism, comedy and circus – there is movement and drama alive in the miniature format.

And this one is my favourite:  Mission Accomplished showing George Bush riding a cow with Tony Blair and the Pakistani President. South Asian motifs blended with strains of Western art, this painting cleverly sums up a myriad of perceptions and reactions to this tripartite alliance on the global scene. The image has been reproduced from the BBC website.

Wasim is expanding the frontiers of the traditional genre of miniature painting. It is a tremendous service to keep this art form alive and relevant.


The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. amazing miniatures:)

    really enjoyed the last two….saira has talent and panache…where has she been hiding?

    trust you to promote another good artist

    kahaan ghayab thay aap?

  2. Dear T, many thanks for visiting and leaving the comment. Yes I am also quite impressed and moved by her powerful work. She was quite prominent in Pakistan but of late is making her mark at the global scene.

    I have been away fromthe blog and will write about this absence in detail..

  3. I am extremely happy that in Pakistan the traditional Indian miniature painting is again being revived. On the other hand there is not a single institute in India where one can learn this great art. Such a paradox!!

  4. hi. am thrilled to have seen these amazing miniatures… breathtaking. Am doing my thesis on the lahori style of miniatures done by imam bakhsh lahori; in doing my research, chanced upon this site- am so glad i did…..

  5. Vijay, I guess, in India there are tons of artisans who do miniatures on daily basis. Anybody can go learn from them or hire one to teach. However, the catch is that since they are taught outside the institutional settings of art school, and pre-designed for a market, they are cast aside as crafts. Moreover, since they are exported as part of cottage industries, artisans tends to maintain the pictorial elements according to “traditional” formats.

  6. I searching a place to be taught miniature indian painting, or any other kind of traditional art in northern India. If you have any information on that,please let me know.

  7. good work

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: