Le Journal Interviews

Interview with Muhammad Shahid

Interview with Muhammad Shahid

What is your background? Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
I come from a small city in Pakistan called Peshawar. I later moved to Lahore to complete a Bachelor’s Degree at the National College of Arts. From a young age, I have been artistically inclined. In school, my teachers encouraged me to pursue a career in the arts. While I have always felt that I have a unique artistic approach, however, it wasn’t immediately apparent to me that I would become a miniature artist.

Who is your favourite artist?
My favourite artist is Marina Abramović. She inspired me because her work seeks to fill the gap between herself and her audience. I admire the way she uses her performance to interact with people in a creative way.

Muhammad Shahid
Muhammad Shahid Portrait

What else inspires your work?
My inspiration comes from my everyday life experiences. My surroundings trigger visions that become ingrained in my memory. These observations have always been the integral ingredient in my work, some of them dating back to my childhood. Small things like rippling water or clothes hung out to dry in the sun have always catalysed my imagination. Having grown up in a city where religion strongly influences culture and traditions, I struggled to imagine becoming an independent artist, choosing a career where I could express myself freely. And yet life surprised me.

Do you ever draw on traditional Pakistani elements?
I occasionally use traditional elements in my work, but it very much depends on the nature of the piece.

What is the significance of the headless figures in your work?
I draw headless figures because I don’t want to reveal the time period through the faces of my characters. This is because I always merge two different eras, like Mughal time and the present, to open up a new dialogue between them.

What is your creative process?
The creative process is the most important part of my work. Like the work itself, my creative process combines practices of photography and collage work. The compositional research helps me discover a new dialogue while blending the new and old miniature elements.

Muhammad Shahid
Muhammad Shahid, Episode 1, 2016, Gouache on Wasli, 21 by 27 inches

Where would you hold your dream exhibition?
I want to exhibit my work internationally. I’ve never had the chance to display my work outside of Pakistan and would love the opportunity to for international feedback.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
My advice would be to work hard and to never compromise your art. Be experimental, never get stuck in a rut and always keep an open mind to creative possibilities.