‘I paint Pakistani society in black and white’

By Sulman Ali for The Nation

Huda Jilani, an aspiring painter, writer and social speaker shares her experiences as a budding artist

‘I paint Pakistani society in black and white’

“I paint Pakistani society in black and white,” said Huda Jilani, an aspiring painter, writer and social speaker. “It's a play of opposites! Dark and light”

She explained her approach by stating that as colorful as our culture is, the dilemmas in play and the issues we face are so dark and in-your-face, and yet we still manage to miss them.

While talking to The Nation, Huda who never had any formal training for painting or sketching shared her passion for art. “Painting is the rawest form of expression I've encountered so far,” she said.

For her painting is like taking everything inside one’s head out on paper or canvas. “You feel relieved. Also because you get to express yourself a lot of times, artists paint to express what they find are harder to say out more conventionally.”

She further explained that a lot of times, artists paint to express what they find is harder to say out more conventionally

While answering a question about how it all started, she answered she was encouraged to express herself as a child. “My parents gave me books as my first ever present, and stationery so I started reading, writing and drawing before I got admitted to school,” the painter added.

About her idol, she told the scribe that Frida Kahlo is her favorite painter; she “adored” her because Farida’s whole life is a piece of art.

When asked about her favorite medium of painting, Miss Jilani said that ink, tea and acrylics are her favorite mediums for painting. “Tea because I worship tea anyway, and I absolutely love working with it.”

On a query about her preferred mode of painting she called Abstract Art as her favorite one. “I do make portraits for people close to me, but mainly, I do abstracts. There is so much inside my head that has to get out, it is a mixture of many different ideas and emotions. Even my landscape paintings turn into abstracts midway”

Huda explained the Abstract Art for a layman like me as the simplest way to explain abstract would be: it focuses on the subjective and intangible instead of the external, tangible reality we see and observe.

“I can paint a person as the person is to the normal eye, or I can paint my own perception of the person, which will be very different from what the person outwardly actually is,” she further explained.

While discussing the issue of acceptance of painters in Pakistani society, Huda stated painting when it's limited to calligraphy or landscape art is still more easily accepted. Where it starts becoming more expressive, there is backlash, but I believe that is faced by artists everywhere.

But as a female painter she believes that being a woman in a comparatively conservative social setup, it's harder to be very expressive. You learn to be very careful about the messages you are sending across and how they can affect your 'image', a lot of variables come into play.

“Move towards topics less talked about, like femininity and sexuality, it can even become dangerous for you to express yourself. It has been relatively easier, even in Pakistan, for Chughtai to paint the female form than it will be for women to portray figurative art for a very long time,” she expressed.

While talking about the women painters historical perspective and less recognition given to them throughout the world, Miss Jilani told The Nation, “Majority in art schools is often women. They are even encouraged to apply for arts more than men are. Yes, history has been biased against them, and the circumstances too; there were issues throughout history for women for getting proper art training initially, and then for getting exposure and exhibiting and selling works. Other than that, we have female scientists who weren't credited for their works. It's not much surprise a lot of female artists had their names erased from history with time.

She gave the example of Lavinia Fontana “who broke the stereotype in art,” Huda believes.

While talking about her writings and social speaking, she told me that she proses and poems on women’s rights and she has been published in both local and international publications.

About her work as social speaker, Huda shared: “I speak out for women and marginalized minority groups and I hope to keep doing that, and continue more openly and boldly each day. I write on social issues. I write prose and poetry regarding women's rights.”

Huda has not yet showcased her work but hopeful to do it soon. Her work however can be seen at www.hudajilani.com


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