Photo: Louise Kim

About

Hiba Schahbaz is a Brooklyn-based artist who is well versed in the centuries-old art form of miniature painting. She trained in miniature painting at the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan and received an MFA in Painting from Pratt Institute in New York City. In addition to exhibiting her work internationally in galleries and fairs including the Vienna Art Fair and Spring Break Art Show in NYC, Schahbaz has curated exhibitions of miniature paintings in Pakistan and India. She was an artist-in residence at the Vermont Studio Center and The Wassaic Project and has taught miniature painting as part of the Alfred Z. Solomon Residency at the Tang Museum. She is a artist instructor at the Art Students League of New York and is represented by Thierry Goldberg Gallery in NY.

Artist Statement

I speak an ancient language in a contemporary feminine voice. Trained in the centuries-old traditional Indo-Persian painting technique, working with imagery developed by men to tell the stories of antiquity, I aim to challenge the inflexible rules of miniature painting and recontextualize the art form to accept and embrace a female perspective.  

In my work, I am both the artist and the performer. I photograph my body and use these images as references for my paintings. Through the stories I create I contemplate what it means to be a woman. These works addresses issues of personal freedom, destruction, sexuality and censorship by unveiling the beauty, fragility and strength of the female form. 

I use the female figure to unfold a narrative that transcends cultural and political boundaries. I tell my own story while heavily embellishing it with imagination and metaphor. And although the protagonist in the work is me, she also carries a dual, existential meaning. I often use the female form as a tool, portraying thoughts and concerns from socio-cultural and political realms.

Meticulously ornamented and vividly colorful, the miniature draws the viewer in. I pursue the world of the beautiful in my work, resulting in visually appealing paintings. This delicate allure is underscored, however, by an unsettling tension. Things are not quite what they seem.