An enlightening exhibition of beauty and pain

Mon 08 May 2023
Aisha Khalid. Photo Andy McDonald, Stuff
Stuff's Taranaki Daily News feature Writer Virginia Winder speaks with artist Aisha Khalid on her life, work, and exhibition 'I Am And I Am Not' on show at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery until 16 July 2023.

“On one side it’s beauty and on the other side it’s the pain,” says Khalid

An embroidered red robe hangs like a promise of fire and love on the ground floor of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.

Behind, is an open shawl of protective blue embellished with birds and Persian motifs of the sky, including clouds and the wind.

Both are made of velvet by Pakistani artist Aisha Khalid, who depicts the duality of life in a retrospective show called I Am And I Am Not.

These works appear soft, intricate and enticing – you could slip into the robe and wrap yourself in the sky – until you look deeper.

 Because nothing is as it seems in this exhibition of 45 works.

The “embroidery” is formed using the heads of gold and silver-plated dressmaker pins, so on the inside of the robe and the flipside of the shawl is a fur-like bristle of sharp pins. A pointed statement about life.

“On one side it’s beauty and on the other side it’s the pain,” says Khalid.

“Nobody knows enlightenment without pain. These are two sides of the same picture – you have a peaceful sky with the birds and go behind, it’s the pins.

“I am and I am not,” she says, referring to a poem by 13th century Sufi poet Rumi, which is the name of the exhibition and many of her works, and is inscribed on the front window of the contemporary gallery in New Plymouth.

Read the full article on here.