Pakistani artist Noorjehan Bilgrami pays homage to the fragrant, blossomed trees beneath which she played as a child in Hyderabad, Deccan, in these photomontages. Referencing history through family photographs from the early 20th century, these large-format, sepia tone photomontages are enhanced with discreet washes and embellished with accents of gold. The stitching effect, reminiscent of ralli (quilt) work found in traditional Sindh textiles, tacks together and seals a prominent square that echoes throughout the series. The artworks serve as sites of memories with questions of dwelling and passage forming a rich, ambivalent landscape.
Also in the show is Bilgrami's Safar series of small installations that reflect her year spent in Japan, learning the art of indigo dyeing. “For me paper is like skin," she explains. "It can be stained, pierced and molded, and it has the capability of breathing and aging. It has the fragility and resilience that has lasted through time.” Safar emphasizes the delicate nature of the mulberry paper, layered in indigo with applied gold and silver pigment, contrasted with small bundles of muslin and silk. These small bundles, or potli, reference our need to hold something small and precious as “we move through life.”
Bilgrami is a visual artist, art educator, textile designer and researcher. Her interest in traditional crafts led to the formation of KOEL in Karachi, an atelier that pioneered the revival of hand-block printed fabrics in Pakistan. She is also one of the founders of the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in Karachi, and has been a member of the Higher Education Commission for the Government of Pakistan.
As a visual artist, Noorjehan has had group and solo shows at national and international venues. She has traveled extensively and lectured at universities and museums in the United States, Canada, Scandinavia, Australia, the Middle East, India and Japan.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website