Sabah Husain’s artistic practice, takes shape within a diverse sphere of media, process and iconography. A lengthy tenure of intense training in painting and printmaking conditioned much of her pictorial predilection. Husain’s Master of Fine Arts degree from Kyoto University of Fine Arts and Music in Japan including a study of language and paper making contributes a Far Eastern perspective to the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree she completed at the National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan. Throughout her career, one which spans twenty-five years, and in the present series as well, Japanese aesthetic informs South Asian artistic and cultural modes. Inspired by Urdu and Persian poetry, her work reveals itself in both realistic imagery and in abstraction. Prints, handmade paper, paint, mixed media, photography and digital media carry the narrative.
Heavily inspired by classical and contemporary poets like Jalaluddin Rumi and Noon Meem Rashed, Husain launches into an intellectual exploration of emotions, memories and the drift to transverse alternate realities. To quote critic and writer Raza Rumi, “This series employs myriad metaphors—of river, boats, clay pots, and shores—to create the effect of Sabah’s personal artistic journey that in effect is a subset of the larger human experience from the romanticized ancient to the turbulent present.” The paper boats are made from drawings, paintings, prints and writings from her previously unrevealed portfolio, have been cut and folded into vessels to take an aquatic journey through time and place. Swirls of liquid color staining marbled sheets of handmade paper emulate ripples and waves of a turbulent current. Husain’s iconographic content finds visual manifestation in dialogue with the poetic ideology espoused by Hassan the potter in Rashed’s poem Hassan Koozagar.