Photo: Louise Kim

About

Hiba Schahbaz was born in Karachi, Pakistan and lives in Brooklyn, NY. She works primarily with paper, black tea, and water-based pigments. She depicts women’s bodies while referencing self-portraiture, creating a space for herself and other women to tell their stories and reclaim their histories. Since migrating to the United States, her practice has expanded from miniature painting to human-scale works on paper.

Schahbaz trained in miniature painting at the National College of Arts, Lahore and received an MFA in painting from Pratt Institute. Her solo shows include The Garden (Spring/Break Art Show, 2018), Hiba Schahbaz: Self-Portraits (Project for Empty Space, 2017), Hanged With Roses (Thierry Goldberg Gallery, 2015), and In Memory (Noire Gallery, 2012). 

Schahbaz has participated in numerous group exhibitions; including shows at NiU Museum of Art, The Untitled Space, and Center for Book Arts; and at art fairs such as Pulse Art Fair, Art.Fair Cologne, and Vienna Fair. Her work has been written about in Vice, Hyperallergic, The Huffington Post, Coveteur, Vogue, NY Magazine, Art Critical, and others.

Schahbaz has curated painting exhibitions in Pakistan and India. She was an artist-in-residence at Mass MoCA, The Wassaic Project, Vermont Studio Center, and the Alfred Z. Solomon Residency at the Tang Museum. She teaches miniature painting at the Art Students League 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.