If we look back at the history of art, we find that most gifted artists who evolved their own artistic styles produced work without the pressure of an art market, they created what they believed in. Mariya Shaikh is one such artist who paints in her own individualistic style without fear or favour. She draws on her own fantasies, ideas and visual imagination. The essence of art is to communicate and we are made aware of her message. Her solo show held at the Full Circle Gallery, Karachi titled, Versatile Beauty was concerned more with the roles women play in society providing thought provoking commentary on womankind.
Mariya writes in her statement:
Since women play a main character in everyday life and are an important element for the building of any society, they have always been the subject of my paintings. My work is predominantly figurative and representational. Inspired by women and places in my life; and those I see in my dreams, these visuals highlight the positive image and inner beauty of women with the main focus on their hidden powers and potentialities. A woman’s in search of true love, her responsibilities as an active member of our society in the form of a mother, sister, wife or daughter, her wisdom and braveness to attain what she desires and her passion to explore sincere company, have been a continuous source of encouragement in my paintings. Women continually experience fear, sorrow and hardship to overcome obstacles in life but always strive to fulfill their roles and responsibilities. Mariya believes that although reality and uncertainty are integral facets of women’s lives, they attempt to overcome them and achieve the strength and commitment to continue apace. The titles of Mariya’s paintings are both evocative and poignant. She communicates effectively through these.
As Mariya’s work is allegorical and illustrative, it is left to the viewer to determine the underlying theme of the piece. However, what really makes her work profound is the mystical or other worldly colouring she uses. She has a praiseworthy command and control of colour, in all her works, entirely new visuals make their appearance felt. She uses a very personal visual vocabulary to communicate the language of love. The Idea of making is more concerned with viewer as subject and the women depicted as object. Mariya invests attentive energy into the canvas with acrylics and vibrant pigments. Her 20 large exhibits are a mixture of surrealist and abstract symbols, beautiful studies in coloring technique. Confidently highlighted women dressed in fairy tale garments demonstrate love and freedom surrounded by flowering whimsical landscapes. The moon above is a feminine symbol, universally representing the rhythm of time as it embodies the cycle of life. The phases of the moon symbolise immortality and eternity providing enlightenment from nature herself.
Mariya was born in 1992 in Hyderabad, Sindh to a house hold of scholars. Her father, Dr. Hafiz Abdul Ghani Shaikh is currently a professor and director at the Institute of Languages, University of Sindh, Jamshoro. It was expected that Mariya would enter the field of medical science, but her understanding parents recognized her abiding interest in art. Mariya joined the Institute of Art and Design, University of Sindh and spent a year studying and practicing fine art, before branching off to study Textile Design. In 2015 she graduated with the highest marks in the department. She has had a brilliant academic record, having had a solo exhibition at a very young age and has been a regular member of at least 15 group shows, her work has been selected for international group shows in Dubai, Canada, India, as well as in Pakistan and she has been acknowledged as a fine artist and textile designer. Her experience includes working as a design instructor in International museums in Australia.
She enjoys reading fiction and takes an interest in Sufism constantly looking within herself and constantly trying to laud the role of women and their revered status.
My work is dedicated to all the women of this world. I believe that the women are the most versatile beauty in the whole world.