Everyone’s excited about Waqas Khan. After all he’s one of the youngest nominees for the Jameel Prize 3, the Islamic Turner prize, if you like. At Dubai Art Fair, where we met him for an interview, the noise was about the way his work contrasted with everything else on show; this was work you really had to see in person because of the minuteness of the detail. Ironic the quietest work can create the greatest clamour.
Waqas Khan born in Akhtarabad, now lives and works in the capital Lahore, in Pakistan. From there he graduated with a BA in Fine Arts from the National College of Arts, 2008 trained in miniature painting style. His work is meditative and minute, his skills lying in the art of printmaking and pointillism, a form that uses small dots to build up forms and shapes that seem to extend into infinity and challenge traditional miniature painting by presenting small scale miniature drawings in such a large scale that they become abstractions. Would his character reflect his work in some way? The audio from the interview is below.
For the exhibition that launches the prize giving, Khan will show two works, Tranquil Pool, 2012 (pictured) and Dance in Retina II (2012), works which the hosting organisation V&A feel “exemplify how he employs dots, marks and lines to express himself and to give the viewer the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of visual infinity“.
Khan’s work is precise and delicate. He does not use magnifying glasses and usually works at night. He holds his breath whilst drawing and exhales only after the ink is on the paper. This long process, he says, puts him in a trance-like state. WE asked him how this might affect his posture, there was something Victorian about spending hours at work like that, into the night, with only an assistant for occasional company to prepare your pens. The works are deceptively simple and, we find out in our discussion, echo his medical family background. The themes and style are built up from ideas and concepts obtained from Muslim, Hindu and Sufi tradition.