Rabia S. Akhtar

Rabia S. Akhtar is a Karachi based visual artist and writer. She received her BFA from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in 2015, majoring in traditional Miniature painting. Within her practice, Rabia examines the conflict between anthropocentric thought and the quasi-sacred dreams of otherworldly animal kingdoms, centering her narratives around the intimate fallacies of childhood memory and fantasy.
 
Growing up in a vastly polluted megalopolis, with little physical access to animals, Akhtar’s first interaction with the non-human world was through Urdu fables, garish cartoons, sensual treasuries, Ding Dong Bubble cats, rainbow Balochi fish, and folk tales of enthusiastic crows and gossiping parrots, all named Mithu. Stripped from their environment, these beings created a distorted realm of solace. With age, the crisis of climate change shattered these worlds, as species went extinct and migratory journeys were severed.
 
The artist revisits the ecosystems of these places. Otherworldly plants and beasts of memory, cavort with creatures now extinct or endangered. Surveillance and interruption disrupt the weather patterns, as tempests rage before their time and worlds go under water. Ghost kingdoms emerge, fluctuating with death.
Nostalgic dreams of flight and birdsong, iridescent feathers, the secrets of fluff and flesh, prompt a desperation to mimic, consume and possess. Human figures invade these gardens, stained with animal colours, playing the music of birds artificially, as the processes of metamorphosis and transformation strip away the artifice of civilization, unearthing a detrimental coexistence on the verge of collapse.
 
Group exhibitions include O Art Space, Lahore (2022), Canvas Gallery, Karachi (2022); LBF Virtual Museum 'The Body and Beyond: Women's Movements in Pakistan', Lahore (2022), Dar-Aamad, O Art Space, Lahore (2022), What is a Good Painting, Art Chowk Gallery, Karachi (2022), Khat-o-Kitabat, Koel Gallery, Karachi, and O Art Space, Lahore, (2021), Breathing Light, Koel Gallery, Karachi (2021), The Architecture of Being,  AAN Art Space & Museum, Karachi (2021), Microcosm 4, AAN Art Space and Museum, Karachi, March (2021), Past, Present, Future, Koel Gallery, Karachi (March 2021), Pretty Art for Pretty People, Sanat Initiative, Karachi (2020), Being Human, O Art Space, Lahore (2020), Every Road is a River, Ministry for Gozo, Gozo, Malta (2020), Echoes of the Walls, Vasl Artists’ Collective, Karachi (2020), Artist Statement 5, Czong Institute for Contemporary Art (CICA) Museum, Gimpo, South Korea (2020), Rehai, VM Gallery, Karachi (2019), Rhythms of Resurgence, Koel Gallery, Karachi (2019), Not Just the City, Space B, Spazju Kreattiv, Valletta, Malta (2018), Beneath The Surface, Canvas Gallery, Karachi (2017), We Ate The Birds, Koel Gallery, Karachi (2017), Who Killed Shumaila, Sanat Gallery, Karachi (2017), Ibtidaa, Studio Seven Gallery, Karachi (2016), Carte Blanche, Fomma Trust, Karachi (2016), Awaken Our Legacy, Standard Chartered Bank, Karachi (2016), Pehli Manzil, Karachi (2016), Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture Thesis Show, IVS, Karachi (2015).