The Comedic Tragedy

Written by Mahnoor Rehan | Poet, Collector of old and beautiful things

On the artistic experiences of  Sidra Saleem | Visual Artist, Educator

Sidra is a Visual Artist based in Lahore, having pursued her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Punjab; she describes her quirky style of art as Post-modernism infused with contemporary art. Her works have been exhibited in various art shows including the Young Art Exhibition and Karbath, she has also achieved first place in the Naqsh Art competition held by GIKI both in years 2014 and 2016.

The unfortunate times of the pandemic were not so unfortunate for our artist, she was found amidst the darkness of her room accompanied by her snoring sister, working on the series she curated during the COVID-19. The pandemic not only helped her creative process but gave her time to self-evaluate which itself was a great challenge.

“What truly inspired me was during the pandemic everyone was rushing for toilet papers while all I wanted was to treasure my work and the treasure I owned was photographs”.

Sidra collected all the photographed memories and combined them with clown faces she drew over the faces of family and friends faded by nostalgia, she believes everyone has a clown within, although quite notoriously this figure is known as to appear silly and irrational, there is most certainly an equal amount of profound morbidity to it; the creative and the destructive, the lively and the horrid, the order and the chaotic elements of the clown archetype is captured, wholly in the duality of Sidra’s artwork.

She believes “Comedy and tragedy have had a very close relationship throughout history and the difference between the two is a good punch line.” – Brown, 2018. The punch line apparently, appears to be the main course of Sidra’s artwork

On having asked how she derives inspiration for her peculiar style of art she told us that she never really needed anything to trigger her thoughts, the ideas miraculously just dawn upon her at random moments such as boring bus rides home or dinners with friends and family.

Sidra believes that we, as humans, are nothing but mere reactions to experiences that happened to/with us, her Untitled clown series are the reactions she observed, captured, and taped across old photographs. Trauma brings out certain reactions that are uncommon, unrecognized, and not acknowledged well, Sidra, through her artwork, wanted to give light to those strange, unusual, and unexplainable reactions that people go through in response to unpleasant experiences and memories. The artist encourages people going through these emotions to reach out for help from friends, family, and professionals in order to spread awareness.

She also believes self-expression through the pursuit of art, music, and literature can be adopted as channelling these reactions into a creative catharsis of sorts.

October 07, 2020

UNTITLED, polaroid photograph, Sidra Saleem, All copyrights are retained by the artist, 2020