Where Shutters Speak

Written by Nimrah Khattana | Visual Artist, Educator

On the artistic experiences of  Eman Fatima

Eman was born and raised in Lahore where she did her FA from Kinnaird College and later on her bachelor’s from NCA in fine arts. She was an active student who voluntarily used to chair a society in NCA and then subsequently she was chosen by Imran Qureshi for Lahore Biennale to perform as a miniature artist. Currently, Eman exhibits her artworks not only in physical galleries but also online, she is also an assistant professor in NCA.

Eman Fatima describes herself as a person who lives each day believing in the possibility of progress and change which has brought into question the ideas of liberty and freedom of speech that she willingly wants to take as given within a democracy. She uses shutters as a metaphor in her paintings which acts as a barrier and helps in disconnecting public and private life. Fundamentally, she says that graffiti is a form of speech and expression, which suggests that it carries some value or meaning for the creator and the receiver. Just like how graffiti is seen as a mechanism of expressing marginalized perspectives where the painter sprays unprompted and unplanned texts and imagery on walls of shutters in the very same way Eman bluntly expresses her views, feelings, and emotions on the canvas freely. In every painting, Eman cleverly leaves hidden messages for the viewers and then lets the observer look at the painting with their own through, perception and interpretation. This helps in penetrating Eman in her consciousness and unconsciousness and obliges her to view the incident as a part of the reality she is living in. She attempted to express her thoughts in writing, graffiti painting, stickers, and watercolors on wasli.

The Covid-19 outbreak has seen sweeping changes across the art world, as galleries have been forced to close their doors to visitors and artists. Eman’s recent work is on lockdown as well where she highlights the uncertainties of life in a pandemic by transforming the public canvas into a private canvas. By doing this she is giving the viewers a quick look at her personal self which she could not show to the world in any other way. The shutter again came into play as all of the things that were associated with freedom were taken away from her, things like decisions and choices leaving her to feel like a groundhog day. Boredom, isolation, and segregation weave through her works, some of which also propose glimpses into how Eman worked under pressure. The shutters in her paintings also indicate that the artist like everyone is on hold, awaiting a return but there is so much still around in the temporary absence. However, these shutters and text on them are a great way of reminding people that we all are in this together and that we all are still here for one another.

September 17, 2020

LOCKDOWN SERIES, SELF STRIKE, Eman Fatima, All copyrights are retained by the artist, 2020