Hailing from Sindh, Pakistan – the region that has a rich history and culture spread over centuries Irfan Gul Dahri takes his basic inspiration from the Ustad-Shagird (mentor-apprentice) relationship, sharing the traditional wisdom and essence of Sufi (mystic) intellect along with contemporary concerns dwelling within the simplicities of life. Based on real life incidents, behaviors, dreams and thoughts, which reflect us all – his work narrates the stories of human relationship, traditional family structures, childhood traumas, patriarchal manipulation and familial bonding. Affection and warmth are camouflaged with universally understood notions of uncertainty, fear, trust and love to create imaginary yet real compositions that are open to several readings. Forming the similar relationship based on the push and pull of tradition and modernity his technique takes its roots from sub-continent’s labour-intensive tradition of Miniature Painting developed further with contemporary mediums and esthetics to satisfy the formal concerns of his subject matter.
Dahri holds a Masters in Visual Art from National College of Arts and was awarded with Charles Wallace Visiting Artist Fellowship 2013/14 to study in Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, London. He participated in Vasl residency, Karachi in 2007, was selected for 8thNeerja Modi International Art Camp 2012 in Jaipur, and Climate Change and Art – A Practitioners’ Retreat, art residency in Swat in 2016. As a resident artist at Studio RM from 2008 to 2013, Irfan remained an active member in different community projects regarding student counseling and training through lectures, seminars, discussions and formal art classes. Irfan received the Chughtai Award and Principal’s Honors Award in 2003 for academic excellence in B. Design from National College of Arts where he teaches as permanent faculty. Dahri has been exhibiting his work in Pakistan, Dubai, Singapore, England and India. He lives and works in Lahore, Pakistan.
“My work mainly deals with the 'idea of life', its quality and price that one pays. This particular series is driven from the APS attack and some other similar incidents, which made us, think twice about the normal routine working and living. The simplicities of life are not simple any more; the very act of living demands courage of a warrior in a war field. Besides the norms are being challenged, we need to reconsider our understanding of abnormal in a new context now. I have been using acrylic on canvas and paper and develop my imagery in layers. Most of my imagery doesn’t represent the idea very directly, one has to find the clues and connect to the context.”
Irfan Gul Dahri
She graduated from College of Art & Design, GC University Faisalabad in 2009 with a distinction in painting, continuing up with MA Honors in Visual Art from NCA Lahore in 2013. She is highly skilled in Oil & Acrylic painting. She has been doing some very experimental site specific works too which explains the importance of ordinary things we ignore often, and which actually contains the reality. She is mainly concerned with realizing and seeing the truth behind things which we see in our daily life and believe in what we see, yet ignore the actual/complete truth. Her work inquest these notions of reality vs. perception. Saleem has been awarded the best young artist award by Arts Council Lahore in 2013. She was artist in residence in 1st SANAT residency in June 2014. She got the ARJUMAND Painting Award’s first prize in 2015. She has exhibited her work in Solo and Group shows in Pakistan, Dubai and Italy. Now she is teaching at NCA as visiting faculty and currently lives and works in Lahore.
“My work deals with the idea of duality. I am working on images and ideas that are contradictory to each other but simultaneously exist thus compliment to each other. Like references from art history not only remind of classical European paintings, but reinforce their absence too. In some of my recent works, the sense of void or loss exist to such extent that conventional image disappears completely. By recreating images of western art, either enlarged or selected portions, I see, interpret and record what takes place in our perception through a remote or second hand source. As I have never seen these paintings in real and the only format in which these paintings are experienced is either through web or printed paper. My intent is to personalize them and bring them into close contact – first to me as a maker and then to others, as the viewers of these images. My intervention in these works is a form of critique or comment upon the division, dislocation and disappearance of time and the separation of space.”