‘In my art it is my endeavor to meld my traditional influences and training in fine arts and Sumi-e techniques in works which are personal to me. In this exhibition I am showcasing two of my favorite areas of expression: birds - both fantastical and grounded in realism and my own adaptation of the Mogul miniature style.’
Mariam is a senior artist of Pakistan who has lived extensively abroad and has been trained in several prestigious institutions of the world such as the Brera Academy in Milan and in Japan under a renowned Sumi-e master and at the University of Tokyo and earned her own seal for which she was awarded the name ‘Tranquility’. With her interest in techniques of painting and in the history of art and of the sub-continent and her particular admiration of the great Mogul rulers of the sub-continent, she has developed her own unique adaptation of the Mogul miniature style of painting, enhancing the scale and painting on silk using Sumi-e techniques. This exhibition showcases some of her Mogul style with some non-traditional images such as the paintings such as the ‘Escaping on a Bullock Cart’ as well as the more traditional ‘Elephant Procession”.
Mariam is not afraid of exploration and experiment and her work encompasses a variety of styles and subject matters each adapted to her own individual taste and temperament. Birds which are the central theme of this exhibition have fascinated Mariam since childhood. She had her own peacocks, in fact a magnificent peacock one day flew into her garden and decided to stay permanently and so she has studied the birds up close and although the representations may be stylized, they are based on observation. Conversely, the mythical fire birds, the ‘Huma’ of Persian legend – the creature born from flame and ashes and the bringer of luck and joy allow free reign to her imagination. The cranes are also considered creatures of luck in Japan and her renditions of the crane are strongly influenced by her years in Japan and Sumi-e training. The renowned Japanese critic Tamotsu Masayama said of Mariam’s work that she ‘has succeeded in depicting with bold, simple, forcible lines animals indifferent postures. Simple as her lines are they are varied in thickness, speed and shade, they suggest the suddenness or gradualness, that with which her paint brush traces the changes in the direction of the lines’.
Mariam was the first foreign artist to have received an award from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tokyo. Her work has been exhibited at Christies, acquired for the permanent collection of the Rockefeller Foundation and presented to America’s President Ford. The Pakistan Government also acquired and presented her paintings to the late Shah of Iran. Her work has also been exhibited in prestigious galleries and museums internationally.
Painting on silk and paper the artist uses many coloring materials, gouache, watercolors and dyes and uses a steaming or fixing process so that her paintings continue to shine. Mariam says ‘having studied the traditional Japanese style of paining which is done on silk with natural vegetable dyes mixed with glue and chemicals, I have adapted this medium to suit the style in which I paint. Most of my paintings are done on pure raw silk which is made in Pakistan. After painting the colours are steamed into the silk giving them beautifully mature colours that are very secure’.