Sumaira Isaacs Educational Background Self Taught. Mentors: Late Kiran Sethi, India and Shakeel Siddiqui,Pakistan. Brief history My work is a reflection of my own existence. I think therefore I have a need to create. My profound need for self-expression brought me into art, as a novice but with a voice that yearned to be heard. Issues relating to my religion consumed me for a long time and dominated my work. This has progressed to issues relating to the individual as a unit of society and has shifted my narrative to a micro perspective. While my surface has primarily been canvas, I have experimented with varied media and in particular like to manipulate non-traditional elements (such as industrial glues, resin, epoxy and talcum powder) to create texture and depth on my surfaces. Contrary to traditional practice my objective has always been to invite the viewer to physically touch my work: touch allows the viewer to respond to my work intuitively making it a more holistic sensory encounter.
Solo Exhibitions July 2005 Nuqoosh at Grand Hyatt, Dubai February 2004 Kenza at Mina Al Salaam, Dubai Group Exhibitions 2009 Grand Hyatt, Diversity 2008 Grand Hyatt, Asian Masters Exhibition 2008 Grand Hyatt, Different Strokes Exhibition 2006 Bur Juman , DIAC members’ exhibition 2005 Unicorn Gallery, Karachi. 2004 WAFI Mall, DIAC members’ exhibition 2003 Dubai International Art Centre Commissioned Projects 2007 Holiday Inn (Barsha) 2007 Mashreq Bank VIP Office, in Dubai and Abu Dhabi 2006 Penthouse, Marina via Blue Camel Interior Design Company 2005 Emirates Neon Group, Capricorn Tower, Dubai 2004 Al Maha Hotel, Dubai Current and Ongoing Projects 2009-2010 Taj Mahal Series – An exhibition of 18 Paintings
This title to me is perfect. It mocks, challenges, and teases the viewer intentionally. It raises a very critical issue but retains the humor, and through humor encourages acceptance. We think that we cannot understand her, we think that she is suppressed, we think she lives an incomplete life, we think we know what life is like behind these cloth barriers, and above all we think that she cannot think. My work relates to women who wear “burqas/chador” the full shroud that is commonly seen from South Asia to Northern Africa. The western (often media spread) perception objectifies them as symbols of repression and assumes that their lives have been subordinated to men and social restrictions. This may be true for many but what this project hopes to initiate are two thoughts: firstly that sometimes the perceived oppression is non-existent, and secondly that oppression may be perceived by the women as having little to do with the chador. Despite the appearance of a person unable to connect with society due to a shrouded imprisonment, it may be that the hijab is inconsequential to her. It is as basic to her as wearing pants is to us and she can live a full albeit slightly different life within the conformities that she has accepted. It is important to highlight that this work has nothing to do with religion. In fact the hijab is a cultural phenomenon rather than religious. My aim is to show that a “purdah” practicing woman is connected with trends, fashions, politics, technology and all the other manifestations of modern life .
My project is a series of paintings of women covered in decorative shrouds carrying symbols or objects of urban life, which connect to different aspects of their existence. These objects are mostly sourced from a Pakistani perspective: they are commonly found, in some cases iconic, symbols of life such as the kohl liner with its packaging that is the predominant make up accessory for most Pakistani women. The tambourine relates to music and particularly to music played in the “zenana” (women’s section) of the house. However they should be viewed in regional context as they apply to women in this entire belt, and represent the region at large such as Iran, Afghanistan, Middle East & Africa. It’s a paradox that the same belt is also synonymous with political turmoil, conflict, war, and where the western negative perceptions and obsession surrounding the Burqa, is being focused upon. Each of the figures have an identity and a personality that is reflected in the statement she is making through the texture and colors of her figure and the item she is carrying. The large piece of fabric or shroud is all colourful, with motifs drawn from across this region. The cheerful patterns and intricate embroidery designs are used to represent the flipside of the ‘Burqa’ notion - that they these characters have the ability and mobility to manouver themselves in spite of the weight of these chadors, within their daily chores and routine to find meaning and existence. This work is a tribute to such brave ordinary women of this region. The Titles of each work/piece reflect the symbiotic ‘connection’ to its bearer, rather than the actual name of the object. It then has the name of the individual woman behind the shroud, and eventually the city she represents.