Areeba Magsi: The Glamorous Artist Opens Up About Using Equine Art
Yes, I studied art all the way from school and went on to do a BA in Theatre Design for Performance from Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design (University of the Arts London). However, I did not focus on fine art. My main focus at university was on transforming text into special performances. I am a formally trained performance designer. Drawing and painting is a
basic technical skill for any type of designing.
Which medium do you use most?
I love to draw. Drawing is the basic discipline of art. Any artist with a strong drawing skill will always have an edge over others. Drawing with charcoal on paper is my favourite. It allows me to freely express my energy, I feel as if the madness of my strokes has found a direction.
What themes do you pursue in your paintings?
These days my work is focused on using the symbol of the horse and its significance in history, both in the social as well as the religious context. I would say this work is only the beginning of a research to create a story. I have painted the world with micro images of horses, sketched tent pegging and polo, painted ‘zuljinah’ and ‘buraq’ as I imagine them. I am trying to build a story using the symbol of the horse in Pakistan as being used traditionally for entertainment and sport. I am also exploring the horse in its spiritual and religious contexts in the form of ‘zuljinah’ and ‘buraq’. Both are fascinating to explore in their mythical conceptualisation and their relation to our faith, our history and their place in our current social context.
What is your earliest memory of creating art?
I did a painting for my sister after she got married when I was five years old. As I was the youngest child, I used to miss her enormously, so I used to paint for her. From what I am told, I was very fond of scribbling on paper from an early age.
Despite your ardent love for art, you don’t display your work anywhere. Why is that?
Some of my work has been displayed at an art gallery in London. I love art and I get satisfaction from my own work. Most of my work is displayed in my own home, as you have seen. Also, some of my work is displayed at my house in Quetta. I have also gifted work to close friends over time. This series is on polo with charcoal on paper and oil on paper. I am organising to put together an exhibition of my recent works in Lahore soon. It is what I call research for a story that I am going to put together later.
Which one painting of yours are you the proudest of?
I haven’t made it yet.
What is your creative process like? Do you ever experience creative blocks?
My mind is all over the place. I research a lot into the subject matter and create a construction out of it. My work is in my sketchbooks and also on large-scale paper. I also experiment with canvas and boxboard sheets using oil. I see my work as a
process that keeps evolving. I not only have creative blocks, but lose focus sometimes. I get bored easily and switch to using different mediums. I keep experimenting and sometimes it turns into a final piece that makes sense.
Name some artists you would like to be compared to.
I don’t think you can compare artists. Yes, some schools of thought and techniques of work might be similar, but I believe each artist’s work is unique because the creative process of each individual is unique to that person. So, I believe that the work
of one artist cannot be compared to the work of another. However, some of my personal favourites are Rembrandt, Tracy Emin, Damien Hurst, Saeed Akhtar and my dear friend Salman Toor.
How do you feel about the future of art in Pakistan?
I think it is very promising. Pakistani artists have evolved in drawing, painting and sculpting. There are institutions like National College of Arts in Lahore and Indus Valley in Karachi that have trained some very talented people. I see gaps as far as contemporary art is concerned. Globally, art is not just drawing, painting and sculpting. Art can be and I believe it is anything and everything – it has some idea behind it and that idea itself is art.
Are there any personal or professional goals you hope to achieve through your work?
I think and I make work and it’s never ending. There is no final piece. It is an ongoing process. I enjoy the journey and that
is what gives me satisfaction. Life is a journey and I like to think of my work as an essential part of my journey. I give structure to my thought through art. I don’t know where it will take me. I am not looking to achieve recognition. I think an artist’s recognition comes from their work as it speaks for itself. I am very happy with stacks of my work in my studio that have never been exhibited. I feel if one binds an artist in ambition and business, they cease to be artists.