• Puzzled in the Muzzle, 2012 - Saba Qizilbash Puzzled in the Muzzle, 2012 - Saba Qizilbash
  • Weightless, 2012 - Saba Qizilbash Weightless, 2012 - Saba Qizilbash
  • Weight, 2012 - Saba Qizilbash Weight, 2012 - Saba Qizilbash

Contemporary Art From Pakistan: Saba Qizilbash

January 9th 2013 to February 9th 2013

Saba Qizilbash | The Empress’s New Clothes

Saba Qizilbash’s series explores the idea of clothes as a second skin, loaded with cultural and sociopolitical connotations. By removing the figurative representation, the artist reinforces the idea that what women wear or are made to wear can become unwanted barnacles that can consume them. She uses clothing from her personal wardrobe to denote the distinct aspects of her own identity.


The artist comments on the personal expression inherent in clothing, even in its absence, depending on the context and location. A hijab, although not necessarily required, cloaks the figure’s vision. The form could be viewed as calm and stable, or as rigid, because she does not know which way to go. Qizilbash also introduces masculine elements to the work, the impact of which is evident on the figures. The presence of a brown coat acts as a load which constrains the figure at times, while at other times, it contributes strength and a sense of weightlessness. Male dress shirts hang on to the female form for support, while it stands firm on its ground.


The works go beyond the autobiographical, to carry a more universal narrative on the load felt by contemporary women juggling expectations, preconceived notions, and relationships. As layers of clothing are added one by one, they contribute a sense of heaviness, pulling the figure down. Yet if one were to remove the articles to shed the load, the figure would disappear.


Saba Qizilbash (1977) carries a degree in Philosophy and Psychology from Kinnaird College for Women in Lahore, Pakistan, a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from the National College of Art (NCA) in Pakistan, and a Master of Arts in Art Education from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). She took part in an artist residency at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology in Oregon. She is currently an Adjunct Professor at the American University in Dubai and a Visiting Professor at Beaconhouse National University, Lahore.