Sara Khan: a new type of artist

Emerging visual artist Sara Khan is currently pursuing her residency at the Burrard Arts Foundation where she has been able to create new types of material strategies, perspectives and creations. Khan’s exhibition, Sanda Rd Key Dhund, which translates to ‘Mists of Sanda Rd,’ referring to an area in Lahore, Pakistan, is currently on display at the Burrard Arts Foundation from Jan. 13 to March 19.

Khan was born in Birmingham, England but grew up in Lahore, Pakistan, which she says has had a huge influence on her artwork and is evident in her current exhibition. Her dedication and talent have been recognized by international organizations as she was one of 13 selected for a residency in Norway just four years after her graduation from the National College of Arts. In recent years, Khan was one of 23 artists selected for the 2018 Vancouver Mural Festival.

Sanda Rd Key Dhund is an enigmatic and mysterious rendering of life in Lahore, Pakistan.

Sanda Rd Key Dhund

The exhibition shows the progression of different types of shadows, scenery and intense imagery, such as a woman with a rabbit in her womb. The strategies used to paint these types of images are new to Khan as she pursued wax crayon, oil pastels and cycling paints as opposed to just watercolor to capture the viewer’s attention.

“These enigmatic scenes are accompanied and contrasted by sincere portraiture of friends and loved ones – both children and adults, their faces specific and conveying human expressions. Some images read like old photographs, conveying an instant, inelegantly cropped and with faded contrast,” states The Burrard Arts Foundation of her current exhibition.

According to Khan’s website, Andrienne Fast, curator of Art & Visual Culture at the Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford, is very appreciative of this new exhibition.

“The co-existence of absence and presence provides a conceptual and aesthetic foundation throughout the exhibition. Khan makes strategic use of negative space to maintain this dynamic, using the edges of dense patterns of colour to demark silhouettes of human figures, trees and other shapes. In effect, she conjures the presence of these forms by rendering their absence, making the eye and mind see what is actually missing,” Fast says.

Past works

Khan has had numerous features in several exhibitions. Her first exhibition Suraj Kinare was featured in the Surrey Art Gallery in 2018.

At the time, curator Rhys Edwards stated the following regarding Suraj Kinare:

“Many of the works on display in Suraj Kinare, an Urdu phrase meaning ‘at the edge of the sun,’ feature a rich symbolism, alluding to the artist’s efforts to navigate between the past and the future, or tradition and experimentation. Silhouettes, for example, feature throughout. These shapes are often vacant, but, in their outline, they tell us of what is missing: perhaps an architectural feature, or a person. In their absence, the memory of these entities touches upon and shapes everything they connect with. On other occasions, balconies, windows and doors open out upon distant vistas, suggesting the dream of escape – or, alternatively, a longing
for home….”

Ghostlike, dreamy characters haunt Sara Khan’s works.

Since then, Khan’s work has been shown at Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre in 2018. She also had the opportunity to feature her work in Lahore, Pakistan at the Gandhara Art Space with her piece What is Seen and Not See, With or Without Seeing. Her artwork has been seen in Danielle Krysa’s book, A Big
Important Artist.

Khan prides herself in scrutinizing the mundane activities of the world and their beauty or repulsion. She wants to attack these societal structures using different strategies such as watercolor.

Khan wants to communicate through her website the very common message: you didn’t belong, but now you do or you did belong and now you don’t.

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