Art 29 is a vibrant art place where guests can come and enjoy some culture and experience some magnificent art. IAD currently exhibits 25 artists who have displayed their work under the topic of ‘Sciend and Technology’ and we got to talk to one of the artist, Shazia Bhanji, to hear more about her work.

  1. Congratulations on a successful opening at ART29! Tell us a bit about how you got into paper sculpting?

I grew up in Lahore, Pakistan at a time when it was easy to jump on our bicycles and roam the city. Far less traffic and far more areas where nature was untouched. I think that gave me an appreciation to observe and explore things the same way I approach art. Observing things as they are and exploring ways of representing them is how I like to work.

As a child, I was very creative in using everything I could find around me to create gifts for my family and friends. Imagine a picture of flowers made of rice and pasta or photo collages, felt figures, etc. At first, I wanted to be a painter but found that working with something more tactile like gently coaxing paper to do things came more natural to me.

I eventually went to learn how to draw and paint with leading artists in the country, but that was when paper sculpture found me instead. The realization that working with paper is what I enjoy as it gives me the passion and driving force to immerse in every project I work on, I didn’t have a choice, so I put down my paint brushes and picked up an X-Acto knife instead.

Conflict by Shazia Bhanji

  1. Have you experimented with any other mediums before?

Yes, I have worked with a number of mediums such as oil, acrylic and metallic sculpturing in the early days. In fact, my first exhibition was a blend of oil and acrylic. It’s not that I don’t enjoy working with these mediums, but for me, the paper is one of the tremendous artistic chameleons. Its easily accessible material and can be used in crafting incredible, gallery-worthy works of art. It’s this fascinating dichotomy that entices me to experiment and use paper art as the centerpiece of my work.

Disruption by Shazia Bhanji

  1. We absolutely loved your work at the exhibition where you show how technology is taking over. What else inspires your artwork?

I can get inspired by almost anything. From my daily walks in the park, watching a movie, reading a book, interacting with people or just looking out the window watching the birds. I also like to surround myself with nature and flowers. It’s one of my ways to reboot my head and open my mind to new ideas.

Having moved abroad (Qatar) and traveling is an excellent source of inspiration in itself, and made me more open to accept and appreciate different cultures, which I can incorporate into my work.

Shazia Bhanji Vivid Recollections Artwork Front

  1. Which artwork of yours is your favorite?

Personally, Tickaway and recent art installation Disruption are my favorite ones. The reason is that Tickaway is about three generation love, capturing the moments before we lose them. On the other hand, Disruption depicts the current situation we are facing with the advancement of technology and its impact on our day to day relationships, spending more hours on our mobile rather than simply talking to each other face to face.

Tickaway by Shazia Bhanji

  1. How do you think the art culture in Qatar is developing? 

I would say that the local art scene in Qatar in evolving rapidly, thanks to Qatar Government policy and commitment towards investment in the art sector. Apart from stunning public art pieces across the country, there are a number of talented young and established artists, working in traditional and contemporary art.  Also, exhibition spaces such as Katara, Firestation Gallery, Art29, Anima Gallery, MIA Museum, etc. have played a tremendous role in not only providing spaces for the upcoming artists to showcase their work, but also bring the diversity of the thinking process in front of the audiences. I foresee even more exciting times for the art scene in Qatar and I’m looking forward to being part of this evolution.

Women

  1. What else should we be looking out for when it comes to your work? 

I recently participated in a group exhibition with International Artists Doha (IAD). In fact, the exhibition is still open for public till May 6th at Art29 Gallery, W Hotel. Apart from this, I along with my fellow artists from IAD have installed a large scale mural titled “Wings”, at Hamad International airport transit area.

As the summer break approaches, I’m planning to experiment with new sculpturing techniques along with combining paper with other mediums. Actually, I’m quite excited about doing these experiments and coming out with something unique and diffident for the audience.