Shanzay Subzwari: My name is Shanzay Subzwari and I’m an artist and art writer from Karachi, Pakistan. I completed my Bachelors in Fine Art from Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in December 2014. I have exhibited my work since 2011 (in Turkey and Pakistan) and currently practice Fine Arts full-time. To date, I have written art reviews for four major art magazines and newspapers in Pakistan, and contributed to an upcoming Oxford University Press publication. I also write for gallery brochures/catalogues.
Shanzay Subzwari: Well, my work has developed over the years from a strong interest in popular culture and pop art to a more concentrated inclusion of the idea of ‘deception’ in my paintings. What’s more, while I have painted in Oils and Acrylics since the beginning, my training in the centuries-old technique of Mughal Miniature Painting has led me to currently concentrate on this medium extensively. This involves the use of delicate brushes made of squirrel hair, and gouache (opaque watercolour) on vasli (handmade paper). My work can be called part of ‘contemporary miniature’.
What you will see in my current series is the element of deception and the notion of ‘what you see is not what you get’. For e.g. major world-decisions, be them political or based on the economy, are made by unknown parties, and what is fed to us by the media is mostly a farce. Advertisements also manipulate us to buy unnecessary products that they claim will make us happier. Not many know about Edward Bernays, the ‘invisible’ nephew of Sigmund Freud, who single-handedly convinced corporations to attach ‘emotions’ to advertisements, which led to the creation of a highly materialistic society. My work often incorporates overlapped or dual images of well-recognized figures as a tool to reveal the multiplicity and layers attached to situations, where the reality, or truth lies hidden.
Shanzay Subzwari: Nothing in particular, really. I was always inclined towards it as a child and started off with making birthday cards for family, by re-drawing Disney princesses on paper. When I was 15, I came up with my own comic series for a children’s newspaper called ‘Teenlife’, that I wrote, penned, drew and inked. Onwards, I took up art in my O and A Levels, and finally went to art school to study Painting.
Shanzay Subzwari: Well, not many. If one persists and works hard, it is easy to make a name for yourself. Many people have knowledge of, and appreciate art here, and Pakistani art is quickly gaining momentum abroad. However, when it comes to political work, one has to be a little careful so as not to make it offensive. Also, some people in Pakistan still are of the traditional mindset that art should not be chosen as a career-option, and carry the misconception that those who are unable to do anything else practice it.
Shanzay Subzwari: I had my first show in Istanbul when I was 19. However, before that I had been painting and practicing on my own apart from school. My family has been extremely supportive. What’s more, my father Khusro Subzwari is a full-time artist and has been painting for seven years. His main theme is Spirituality- after an inspiring visit to Istanbul he has been painting Whirling Dervishes based on Rumi’s verses.
Shanzay Subzwari: I think my solo exhibition titled ‘Hero Worship’, based on Pakistani cricket heroes, which I had when I was in third year of university. This happened at T2F (The Second Floor) in Karachi in 2013. Since I made work for this exhibition (about 33 paintings) while I was still in third year of art school, it made me realize that I can work under pressure and it gave me confidence in my skills.
Thank you so much to TimesOfYouth for intervewing me! It’s been a pleasure.
Shanzay Subzwari: I would love to interact with them and get feedback! You can contact me via my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shanzay-Subzwari/118344274924815
and Twitter account https://twitter.com/ShanzaySubzwari