This artwork, titled, “Festivals”, is about the cultural heritage of Pakistan shown through the festival of a 17 century Sufi Saint Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai’s birth anniversary celebration in Sindh, Hyderabad, Pakistan. The work brings out the anthropology of Sindh society: the singers play the Tamboora, Shah’s invention and recite his poetry, dancers dance to the beat of the drums, the meditators and women sit on the side, the space they occupy is telling of patriarchy. These borders become dimmer as all share a common ground in the loving embrace of the shrine and shows harmony through diversity. There is a lady carrying a Louis Vuitton bag and haggling having her say and place here but merged in the mileu: the festival is such an equaliser amidst a society that discriminates gender and class..
Mehrunnisa Hashmi is a Pakistani born artist, anthropologist, ESL teacher and a poet. She is currently based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
She has a Bachelor’s degree in English Language & Literature and Fine Art and MSc degree in Anthropology.
She has gained insightful knowledge through her diverse academic, professional and personal pursuits. Her exposure to diverse cultures, people, landscapes and literature has made her paradigm of life more panoramic. Her repository is made up of a blend of anthropology, literature, art, history, program management and strategic research in social development and international aid sectors and international teaching experiences.
She manifests a truthful picture of a society through traditions and behaviour of its actors.
At the onset of her artistic career, she took inspiration from the Renaissance masters and painted life in a realistic style, especially employing chiaroscuro technique to focus the emotional element of a pictorial narrative. Her work is mostly rooted in cultural and contemporary history highlighting subjects like environment, justice, women representation, refugees and children. She develops complex and layered compositions strewn with people, elements of nature, patterns and objects to present a message on large canvases giving an effect of a rolling ream.
She has also experimented with hybrid works of art overlaid with calligraphic poetic verses to reveal the inspiration and meaning directly in her artwork.
In 2011 the Government of Pakistan selected her paintings for display in public buildings.
She has exhibited and continues to exhibit her artworks in London, Pakistan and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
As of 2019, she has developed an interest in Saudi traditions and KSA’s Vision 2030 which emphasizes the role of women and culture in modernization. She has exhibited her art at main galleries and her work has been appreciated widely.