When the World was Still Vast
Pastel on canvas
My work seeks to restore females to the hearts of stories. The female protagonists of my paintings float through eras and ideas, pausing here and there to catch their breaths and steady themselves but their hearts are forever dreaming. Their depiction involves a kind of magical realism; they are anachronistic, because they are informed both by my immediate surroundings as well as many literary and historical associations.
In my recent work, I have been exploring the roles allotted to females in myths and folklore. It is not a very conscious exploration, and can be seen as an expression of vague disgruntlement at how trim and perfunctory these roles have become over time. The systematic truncation of feminine roles has been even more drastic in our iconoclastic culture and religion. This has made me look to the past all the more in search of settings in which to place my protagonists.
Pagan and Medieval Christian backdrops appeal to me, especially, because females were still part of the iconographies of those times; they wielded mysterious powers, they had vestiges of divinity, miracles were associated with them. These works are my attempt at reclaiming those times, and the romance that defines them. Cultural and chronological distance also results in anachronisms which I enjoy exploiting in order to create scenes at once familiar and cryptic.
Dua Abbas graduated from the National College of Arts, Lahore with a BFA (Distinction) in 2010, and was awarded the Shakir Ali Award and Sir Percy Brown Prize for excellence in Fine Art and History of Art. She is currently a lecturer and drawing instructor at NCA. Abbas also writes for ArtNow Pakistan and The Friday Times.
Image Courtesy | Dua Abbas Rizvi