Mitti Ke Teelay . Mounds of Soil: Sara Khan September 17 – October 29, 2022
In her exhibition Mitti Ke Teelay . Mounds of Soil, painter Sara Khan reflects on the significance of the seemingly mundane aspects of daily life. Khan’s detailed watercolour paintings combine figures, foliage, and pattern to create complex and fantastical landscapes. Khan’s autobiographical work likens pregnancy to “mounds of soil,” mitti ke teelay in Urdu, her first language, and delves into themes of transformation, motherhood, and family. Nature, and our place as a part of it, are also important to Khan. “The landscape is you, and you are the landscape,” Khan says. “It influences you in such a way that you become a part of each other.” This idea is represented in her work through the blurred boundaries between figures and nature, but also through translucent layers of paint, indistinct edges, and figures receding and reappearing. The paper accumulates both marks and memories. She also draws inspiration from traditional textiles, imagining each of our lives as nuanced tapestries made up of ordinary moments, greater than the sum of their parts. The games we play as children. Sharing a meal with friends. A song stuck in your head. “When it comes to paintings, the visuals I’m trying to create, or the stories I’m trying to tell, both sides are very important: you can’t have the joy without the struggle.” This duality is always just below the surface, sometime playful and sometimes menacing, nestled between the figures and landscapes. Khan’s vivid compositions offer complexity and ambiguity so that we may find something of our own tapestries in her work.
Sara Khan was born in Birmingham, England and raised in Lahore, Pakistan. She holds a BFA (with honours) from National College of Arts, Lahore (2008). She was one of 13 international artists selected for the Bag Art camp, an international art residency in Bergen, Norway (2012), and one of 23 artists selected for the Vancouver Mural Festival (2018). Exhibition Reception and Artist Talk: Sunday, October 2, 2022 from 3 – 5 p.m. Image Credit: Sara Khan