Fearless experimentation, continuous exploration, mark Mariam Khawer’s art - GulfToday

Fearless experimentation, continuous exploration, mark Mariam Khawer’s art

An eye on art.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

Mariam Khawer, an artist who works primarily in mixed media, says that her creative process is characterised by experimentation, risk-taking and an openness to new possibilities. “My artistic practice is a continuous exploration; it is a journey of self-discovery and an invitation for viewers to embark on their own introspective voyages,” she says. She draws inspiration from her surroundings, culture and personal narratives.

Her style is a fusion of abstract expressionism and contemporary aesthetics, and emotionally evocative compositions are the result. She combines elements such as paint, collage, textiles, found objects, various textures and high colour, to create multidimensional and immersive art pieces.

She has participated in several local and international exhibitions, including ones hosted by Funun Arts, PaintBrush Art Community and Dubai International Art Centre in the UAE, with solos in Radisson RED Hotel in Silicon Oasis, Dubai, and The Pavilion in Fakeeh University Hospital, Silicon Oasis, Dubai. Her work has been shown in exhibitions in Georgia, India, Japan and Qatar. Recently, one of her pieces was the First Runner Up at the Best Out of Waste exhibition, curated by Creative Cubes.

 Still life in high colour.


She holds art workshops and has never shied from charity. She donated her artwork to raise funds for the Artists for Flood Relief 2020, to provide relief to those affected by the 2020 floods in Karachi, Pakistan. She also donated a painting for the Overseas Pakistani Artists’ Fraternity (OSPAF) Online Ramadan Art Auction 2022 Edition, where all proceeds from the auction went to support free treatment of patients and clinic operations at Pakistan Medical Centre. Mariam Khawer speaks to Gulf Today

What will you call your style?

I still haven’t developed what you would call a “signature style”. Since I began my art journey, I’ve gone through phases where I’m obsessed with one medium and for the duration of that phase, I have produced a procession of pieces using that particular medium. So I have my oil paint phase, resin phase, acrylic pouring phase and am currently looking at alcohol inks. If I had to summarise my style or rather pick a style I most prefer, it would be textured 3D abstracts.

 Mariam Khawer is based in the UAE.


What is the extra you see in everyday objects — guitar, perfume bottle, apples — that make them your subjects?

At times there are objects that catch my eye and I have a strong urge to put them on canvas. It’s inexplicable and I can’t put it in words. I once saw a green apple and wanted to make a painting of it; I never had the same inclination towards a red apple. Same with musical instruments. I have a few more ideas in the pipeline in the same realm.

Your vision takes in the cosmos — planets and the sea — also. You think big, but can draw small. Can you comment?

Certainly! I find the vastness of the cosmos, the celestial bodies and the endless expanse of the sea quite fascinating. I don’t typically enjoy painting landscapes or nature very much; however, the sea holds a special fascination for me, with its boundless depths and ever-changing moods, be it the power of crashing waves or the tranquility of a calm shoreline. To quote something I read, nature is but a painting on the largest canvas in the universe. I enjoy capturing that grandeur in my art.

 Artwork by Mariam Khawer.


Why do you like colour?

For me, colour is beauty. Every shade, every colour, is inherently beautiful in its own unique way. I always find myself inadvertently creating colour combinations in my head. Additionally, one of the reasons I love colour is its endless possibilities. With a vast spectrum of hues, shades and tones at my disposal, I can experiment endlessly, mixing and blending to create unique palettes that convey the mood and atmosphere I want to evoke in my paintings.

You say you are experimental in your art. Can we say, sometimes even outrageously experimental?

Great question! In general, I’m quite risk averse. But when it comes to art, I believe in pushing boundaries, exploring new techniques, and challenging conventional norms.

 A door opens out to the horizon.


This often leads me to embrace experimental approaches in my artwork, sometimes even venturing into territories that might be considered outrageously experimental. However, experimentation, even in its most outrageous forms, allows me to keep my artistic practice fresh and I often stumble upon interesting discoveries about myself as an artist - which potentially might be the reason why I can’t stick to one particular style.

What does calligraphy mean to you?

Arabic calligraphy, or more specifically Islamic calligraphy, holds great significance for me. Even though I’m not well versed in calligraphy, I love capturing my favourite Quranic verses painted on a canvas. I have them hung up in my room so I can see them every day. They serve as great personal reminders.

Do you paint from memory, observation, imagination or all of them?

All of them, but mostly imagination.

“My pictures radiate positivity.” Is it so?

I believe so. I like using bright colours and uplifting imagery in my work. My intention is to evoke feelings of happiness and inspiration in those who view my paintings. Of course, positivity is subjective, and each viewer may interpret my paintings differently based on their own experiences and perspectives. However, my overarching goal is to spread positivity through my paintings.

Who are the artists who have inspired you?

I’m inspired by many contemporary artists.


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