Shehla Rehman - An Artist Of Distinct Spirit
Shehla canvasses terrorism, oppression and human abuses in her remarkable work of art
By Syed Atiq ul Hassan, Sydney, Australia
I had not taken into account her sparkling talent until I myself saw her paintings on terrorism and human violence. I met Shehla Rehman at her residence in Karachi, during my last visit of Pakistan, in November, 2003, with Abdul Qadir Qureshi, my long time friend and a well known personality in the Pakistani media.
Shehla Rehman's touching paintings on today's world of terror speak for themselves. In her distinctive artistic span of life Shehla has already admired unfathomable art lovers through the exhibitions of her precious work in many countries.
When I asked Shehla about her unique paintings on terrorism, violence on women and child abuses she, in her elegant style just like her work, replied, 'I am trying to carry out my mission to highlight the social evils of our society. inhuman acts, hatreds, and malicious traditions like Karo Kari, use of children in camel racing, killing of innocents through suicide bombings etc through my paintings'. With her committed work, today, Shehla is one of Pakistan's leading female artists.
Shehla is among those few in Pakistan who received the privilege of working with the renowned Pakistani artist Sadequain, in 1985. Later she was honoured with the 'Sadequain Award'.
Shehla's striking portrait of a refugee Afghani woman which she painted in December 2001, after meeting with her in Karachi, is a reflection of her dictums against the maltreatment of women.
Like her talent, God has given her an impressive personality, tall, slim and profound in nature; Shehla Rehman completed her formal education, and graduated in History of Art, from Malaysia, in 1986. However, she carries her artistic genes from her mother, who was an artist from the prestigious National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan. Soon after her graduation, Shehla travelled to Europe and spent few years, to learn the profound roots of paintings in the historical cities - France, Rome and Italy. She worked with well known Italian artists in 1990.
Shehla's long credentials include numerous awards and certificates in the last ten years from national and international institutes. She has the honour of painting the portraits of many renowned international personalities. In 1992, she painted the portrait of Kamal Ata Turk for which she was given an award by Turkish Governor Anatalya.
Shehla is a multi-skilled artist. She has made her own hand-painted unique characterised cards for all occasions which receive much popularity in and outside the Pakistan.
Shehla's love with the people and culture of Pakistan apparent, she canvassed her designed and painted (postage) stamps titled 'dresses of Pakistan' in 1993. The Government of Pakistan acknowledged her excellent work of art on promoting Pakistani culture.
In 1994, she painted the portraits of His Highness Prince Karim Agha Khan. In 1995, she painted for King of Malaysia Azlan Shah and received an award from the Malaysian government.
In the last 5 years, there have been many national and international exhibitions held on Shehla's poignant work of art. In 2001, Shehla had a solo exhibition in Karachi of her paintings on 'Terrorism'. Similarly in the following years, the Art institutes and councils in Pakistan held solo exhibitions of Shehla's unique and incredible work entitled, 'Terror, Torture & Tears', 'War against Terrorism', 'Violence against humanity', 'violence against women' held in Switzerland, 'Daughters of Eve', 'Spirit of Asia' held in Korea.
Raising voice against the maltreated traditions of the
tribal-based society in the rural areas and articulating on
terrorism is not an easy task and becomes more challenging
for a woman in a male-dominated society. Shehla Rehman could
choose other customary fields for her painting which would
have paid her everything she desired acknowledging her
remarkable talent. Instead, she opted to use her
extraordinary abilities to fight against terrorism,
oppression and human abuses by canvassing them in her
paintings. (The interviewer is a Sydney-based journalist).