Marium M Habib is a visual artist from Karachi, Pakistan with a degree in Fine Art: Painting from Wimbledon College of Arts, University of the Arts London. She has participated in group shows in London including Moniker Art Fair and at the Crypt Gallery. After returning to Karachi in 2018 she had a solo show at Art Chowk and has had her work featured at Gandhara Art Space in the show “Microcosm 3” curated by Adeel Uz Zafar.
We had a small chat with her after looking at her pieces:
Was there ever a particular moment where you decided you wanted to become an artist?
I have always wanted to be an artist, so I can’t say there was a particular moment.
When we look at your paintings, it’s interesting to see your particular style and brush strokes. How long did it take for you to develop your own distinct style?
How I’ve painted has varied a lot over the years. I would say I found my voice about 2 years ago when I was in my final year at art school. I got more confident as I got more practice and so I was able to take liberties with subject matter, color and scale. It is hard to say how long as I have always made art.
Can you tell us the process of how you come up with a theme for your collections?
I get my inspiration for my work from my personal life as well as research, I look at a lot of art and try and read about current issues. I take photos as well as write and sketch to try and bring it all together. It’s an intuitive way of processing information.
What does your work aim to say?
Since my work is personal I hope it resonates with the viewer emotionally. There is a strong feminist theme so I hope it nurtures that dialogue. I would like it to challenge established notions of identity and gender politics.
What piece of artwork would you like to be remembered for?
At the moment the painting “Colossus,” although I like to think the best is yet to come since I’m still quite early in my career.
Colossus, Chalk Pastel on Paper (2017)
You do a lot of portraits. What defines the term “beauty” for you?
Well, anatomically human beings are so beautiful in the way muscles and skin wrap around the skeleton, and it’s beautiful how everybody looks different.
You had your first solo exhibition this year in Karachi. How would you describe it compared to your previous exhibitions in London?
It was very liberating as the only person I had to take into consideration while curating was myself! It was also a lot of pressure, as in London there’s some degree of anonymity. An interesting shift was the change in context; in London a lot of the work addresses being a minority and that influences the conversations around it, I enjoy engaging with my city in this particular way.
Do you have a favourite photograph or painting that inspires you
“Christ after the flagellation as contemplated by the Christian Soul” by Diego Velázquez
Christ after flagellation as contemplated by the Christian soul, Diego Velazquez
What is your favourite art gallery in Karachi?
(Laughs) The one that gives me my next solo show
If there was any artist (living or dead) you could spend a day with, who would it be?
What is your favourite medium to use?
I’m really enjoying chalk pastel at the moment! But who knows, I may exclusively produce 50 ft bronze sculptures in 20 years.
Are you ever worried to display ‘controversial’ art in Pakistan?
Not really, there was a degree of self-consciousness with some of my pieces during the solo show but I was never worried per se and the gallery was very supportive. I can’t condescend to my audience, people are a lot more open than you would think.