Inspired by her upbringing in Pakistan and specialising in the techniques of miniature painting, Young Masters Art Prize 2014 shortlisted artist Anum Jamal tells us more about her work, background and hopes for the future…

What is it about the Young Masters Art Prize that most interests you?

What intrigued me about Young Masters was its celebration of the Old Masters’ craftsmanship, since my work also has similar notions.

Can you explain to us what your work is about?

Hailing originally from Karachi, Pakistan, the foundation of my practice is the amalgamation of concept and aesthetics. Learning miniature painting techniques, gave me the tools to promote the local orientalism and keep alive our history of the sub-continent. Simultaneously, the thirst to learn the notion of conceptual art and initiating a discourse through it has been present in me as well. Thus my work is a celebration of my culture and the art which is considered the art of the Masters of the sub-continent, while addressing the current aspects of my city: the urban architecture, the chaos that engulfs it, and appreciating the aesthetics of this part invented, part documented imagery that aided in constructing this work.

Which artist/s are you most inspired by?

Frank Stella, Agnes Martin, Zahoor ul Akhlaque, Sumaria Tazeen, Albrecht Dürer and Alphonse Mucha , to name a few.

Can you tell us something about your background?

I earned my Bachelors in Fine Art from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (Karachi, Pakistan) in 2012, with an overall distinction. My training has been in Miniature Painting, primarily in Mughal and Rajput Miniature, so my work has always had a connection, either conceptually or aesthetically, with this practice. 

What inspired you to become an artist?

Art has been an integral aspect in my family and I have been immensely inspired and influenced from a very young age; reading about art movements and the different ‘isms’ that have shaped art over the centuries. Furthermore, miniature painting has an influence on many of the aesthetic and cultural notions of Pakistan and thus I was drawn to it.

Moreover, with time, I realised that for me, art was an integral tool to initiate a discourse about any issue, and hence I feel it is a very powerful representation for any aspect.

If you weren’t an artist what would you be?

Even though it is tantamount to ludicrousness for me to think of being anything other than an artist, yet if I was not, then definitely I would be a writer. I love to read when I’m not working, especially the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Franco Berardi and HG Wells. I do write a blog since I am inspired by the above mentioned writers, plus my sketchbook is an amalgamation of rough sketches as well as short phrases and even sentences which aid me in penning down my thoughts.

What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date? 

I gave an art piece for the auction “Pakistanis for Pakistan Art Auction” held by United Nations World Food Programme. The auction was held at the Christie’s Auction House in Dubai in 2013.

What are your plans for the future?

At the moment I am doing my Masters from the Coventry School of Art and Design in UK in Contemporary Art Practices which is more research-based and is aiding me in taking the risks to further develop my practice and to reach new heights.

My plan is to complete my Masters degree, and then to apply for residencies and exhibitions, to further solidify my career and to allow me to honor my craft and integrate it with contemporary aspects.


Image above: Anum Jamal, Hunting, 2014, gouache and tea on paper, 28 x 35.5cm