Eminent painter and printmaker Naazish Ataullah (b.1950) lives and works in the city of Lahore, Pakistan. She has served as the principal of National College of Arts, Lahore in the past and is currently a professor at Beaconhouse National University, Lahore. Ataullah has earned considerable cachet in art circles and is considered as one of the most important female artists in the country due to her immense contribution to the field. She has been a mentor to many big names such as Faiza Butt and Rashid Rana. The artist has not only assumed the role of a mentor but that of a social activist and art historian.
Ataullah was a student at the National College of Arts and a member of the women action forum in the 1980s. Naazish along with her fellow artist and colleague Anwar Saeed, were sent to London by British Council to hone skills that were previously not implemented in the printmaking studios in Pakistan. On her return from Slade School of Fine Arts, London after a year, she was instrumental in introducing new techniques at the Cowasjee print studio at NCA where the printmaking practice was formerly restricted to linocuts, woodcut and relief printing. They introduced techniques such as lithography and etching and the machines that were used to carry out the process.
The artist has repeatedly used the “chaadar” (headscarf) in her work as a symbol of the limitations upon women. This chaadar assumes many forms – mixed with architecture and nature-shaped and revealed in different variety. Ataullah’s work exposes the growing burdens and limitation to women’s freedom, dating back to the 1980s when women were forced to adorn a chaadar in public forums, educational systems and the media. Through her artwork the artist openly rejects this rule as she illustrates the headscarf in a way to defy these restrictions.
Ataullah’s rebellious nature made her one of the few that were instrumental in bringing the ideas of women forward in a male centric art world.
The artist’s work was a part of the show Origins at Khaas Gallery in 2014
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