An Interview with Seema Khanji
Q: What was your first inkling that art was going to be an
important part of your life?
A: I won a local art competition when I was three years old and my work was displayed in a galleryfor people to see. Seeing how my work affected people and how it momentarily relieved them of their daily concerns by introducing them to a novel idea was a feeling that inspired me to take up art full-time.
Q: What was the earliest medium you worked with
A: The earliest medium i worked with were watercolours, but somehow I couldn't quite express myself very well with them. I feel the need for many colours layered on top of each other and that generally ruins the etheral quality of watercolour, so I switched to pastels which can be manipulated thouroughly.
Q: How does impressionism figure in your expression?
A: Impressisionism is my favourite art period. I love the idea of painting with your impressions and creating a painting which is pretty realistic also. Impressionism is pretty important in my art work, because like I said, I love using lots of colours to show exactly what I see.
Q: Have you consciously tried breaking free of some cliched
artistic expressions which might have plagued the works of the artists in your
I did nothing drastic consciously. I just went where my pastel took me . I always liked a certain style and thats what im trrying to reach. I'm not tryng to break free of any artistic quicksand.
Q: Do you think your culture influenced your artistic style?
A: No, i dont think it did, my style is not ethnic in the least. I like to think of it as being rather detached from cultural subjectivity.
Q: Did it propagate your love for a certain medium?
A: Not really. I don't think theres any particular medium that you can say is pakistani. I love using pastels because they're so utilitarian. you can go in and erase and change the whole thing.they're also very diverse, they can look alot like oil paintings.and you can use soft pastels or hard, or even pastel pencils. And with the bit of water they become like watercolours
Q: Was the Karachi society supportive and understanding of your vocation?
yes, i think pakistan is beginging to appreciate the arts alot more,. there are more institutions, exhibitions etc, than there were before. and alot of different art styles are being recognzed as opposed to just the very realistic styles/
Q: Does a limited budget impose any major restrictions on u're style?
Yes, it often does. But i have learnt to innovate with the materials that I am able to afford, and this often leads to far more satisfactory results than those achieved by more expensive materials.
Q: Does your experience with limited artistic resources inspire you to perpetuate a better standard of artistic provision for the budding artists in your community?
A: Yes, i would like to have some sort of artistic creativity center or something. I mean if you want to take pottery classes or dance lessons or learn yoga, or zen or anythign very seriously you have to look for the right teacher and sometimes even that is not available. There should be some place or some organisation which brings all these people together as a resource for those who cant find what they need.