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Memory / Metamorphosis

Amna T Naqvi and Salima Hashmi
Gandhara-art, October 2009,
Hardback, 62 pages
ISBN : 988172667-0

Talha Rathore received her BFA in Fine Art with a specialization in Miniature Painting, from the National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan in 1995. In 1998, she relocated to New York with her husband and was thrust into an alien environment and culture. Her art practice helped her to come to terms with having a home in the past, and one in the present. It was from this immersion into New York’s daily life that she took her inspiration. Her muse was the mundane and functional; mass produced road and subway maps that she has used to navigate the metropolitan terrain in the new city. Perhaps it was that the grid lines of the New York street maps that reminded her of the grids used in the traditional art form of miniature painting, or the structure of the subway maps which inspired her to take these utilitarian documents and make them into something surprising and exquisite. Talha used the traditional surface of the wasli, but the final layer of the paper was a piece of the New York subway map or street map, which is then painted with her images. Through her art, there is an easy relationship between her current home in New York and her own roots. The Life Forms series of works shows her returning to her figurative roots with self portraits. In the first work of the series she the traditional Mogul dress representing her need to hold onto her Pakistani traditions. However, she dons a pair of trainers acknowledging her own co-existence in the country of her birth and her adopted homeland. Her face and head remain solid in the painting, but her body seems to be absorbed in the New York background as she blends into her new environment.