Faiza Butt, b. 1973, Pakistan
Born in Lahore, Pakistan, to a matriarchal family of five sisters, Faiza Butt received an early creative education in the arts. She graduated with honours from the National College of Art in Pakistan, receiving the Gold Medal award for outstanding work. In 1999, she was awarded the Unesco-Aschberg bursary for artists, completing a residency at the Bartle Arts Trust in Durban, South Africa. During her stay, she conducted talks and workshops in many art galleries and museums in the Natal region. Subsequently, Faiza travelled to London where she went on to complete postgraduate studies in painting at the Slade school of Art, gaining a Distinction for her work.
From the beginning, Faiza’s practice has born a strong social relevance, and her paintings raise important issues surrounding gender politics. Created in London, Faiza’s work displays a hybridity of elements, unique to her as an artist in diaspora. It addresses issues that face us all, beyond boundaries and cultural parameters, exploring quandaries of the human condition.
Specially commissioned for The unbreakable rope, Love in Bloom is a work inspired by the poetic works of Abu Nuwas. Faiza uses the ancient aesthetic of the ‘Kiswa’ (the Kaaba’s ornate cover) to create an original hybrid font. The English text is crafted into digital Kofic font and infused with shapes of contemporary gold jewellery. As both a spiritual and material substance, gold has always held a strong influence over Faiza’s work, calling to mind the sought-after element and currency in Middle Eastern and Asian, as well as Western, cultures. Faiza has also created the ornate metallic logo of The unbreakable rope.
Abu Nuwas's poem has been laid out like the pages of an open book (the Quran) with a heavily ornate border in a style reminiscent of the illustrated and illuminated borders of sacred books. It is often quoted that the holy text of the Quran reads lyrically, almost like poetry. In an effort to draw a comparison between the carnal and the ethereal, Faiza paradoxically fuses the aesthetics of the sacred with the worldly longings of Abu Nuwas for his lover. In the Sufi tradition of poetry, the infinity of God is manifest in unbridled devotion and passion for the beloved.
Faiza’s approach towards text is to use word as image. Her ongoing research into the origins of writing, the plurality of text and the visual import of written word has resulted in her crafting of the poem Love in Bloom. In its powerful visual repertoire of letter, word and font, Faiza’s work holds appeal even for those who cannot read the particular translation. The universality of symbols and codes is of great importance to Faiza, and the poem has been developed with that particular intention. “We live in this visual age, where familiarity and association heavily influence our day-to-day opinions. The contorting of Abu Nuwas’s translation creates a fusion that does not necessarily sit in a particular cultural box, and becomes a universal message of love and tolerance.”
Faiza lives and works in London. Her works are in various private and public collections including the British Museum and the Kiran Nadar Museum in Delhi.