Risham Syed | The Karakul Diptych
Risham Syed is a Lahore-based artist who uses painting, as well as other mediums to explore difficult questions of history, sociology, politics, and post-colonial identity.
south asian artist, risham syed, women artist, Lahore-based artist, associate professor, head of the department, SVAD, BNU, Seven Seas
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Risham Syed

The Karakul Diptych

Medium: 2 panels 5′ x 5′ each.
Panel 1: Acrylic on canvas.
Panel 2: Karakul skin stretched on board.

The tiger, symbol in south Asia frequently employed for its associations with power, appears floating on a vast canvas—at once central in its position. The painting executed meticulously but also miniaturized by it’s surrounding large blank canvas is encompassed by an ornate, gilded frame patterned with crossing swords; alluding to power and affluence, much seen in the middle east. Situated adjacent to the canvas, the panel covered in karakul monumentalizes the highly valued sheepskin which was popularized by Pakistan’s founding father, Jinnah, and appropriated by subsequent Pakistani and other south Asian leaders as an icon of power and authority. The disparate materials form a tableau; examining plays of power and influence traced through the past to contemporary Pakistani society.

Detail of Panel 1, Acrylic on canvas

Detail of Panel 2, Karakul skin stretched on board