Annem Zaidi

Extended Longing
Oil on canvas
42×72 inches
Private Collection

Is an innocent depiction of a woman the most appropriate persona for her inner desires? For that would be more socially acceptable. Or must she be forthcoming and direct in order to truly express herself and be correctly understood?
Being a female living in a male-dominated, Pakistani society fuels my persona and its representation through my art practice. Persona which in Greek means mask, can act as a weapon, potentially helpful to protect, deceive or even enhance one’s image in the society. Immersed in multiple personas, Pakistani women hold a larger share of the population- conforming to the critically social and exceedingly decided religious images that the politically charged society dictates.
The ‘faceless’ female in a western dress illustrates how she is so comfortable in her own skin when her face/identity is concealed from the world. The black background highlights the ‘drama’ element allowing all the focus to be on the posture which sets the mood. The titles of my paintings, such as Extended Longing reinforce the feelings and idea of a ‘temporary state’ that the protagonist is in.
My visual vocabulary is inspired by gender-specific work of female artists like Margherita Manzelli, who paints figures that have a striking resemblance to her. She once quoted, “I would like them to be different to me. And yet I realize that this very desire is symptomatic of the fact that something of myself remains in them”. Similarly, Cindy Sherman’s photographs leave the viewer confused about her real nature, personality and identity. In my paintings, transparency flows through the drapery symbolizing the mystery and simplicity inherent in every woman- exuding elusion, revealing lot more than meets the eye.
Annem Zaidi did her BFA from National College of Arts, Lahore in 2011.

Image Courtesy | Annem Zaidi