Hiba Schahbaz, Dreaming at Sunset, 2022; Hand-Embellished, Signed, and Numbered Limited Edition Print
Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Hiba Schahbaz is a Brooklyn-based figurative painter who works primarily with paper, black-tea, and water based pigments. Her subjects, largely drawn from her lifelong practice of self portraiture, inhabit a dreamlike, all-female world. Addressing issues of personal freedom, destruction, sexuality and censorship, Schahbaz’s work unveils the beauty, fragility and strength of the female form. The artist initially trained in Indo-Persian miniature painting at Lahore’s National College of Arts, and later earned a Master’s in Painting from Pratt Institute in New York. Her recent exhibitions include Fire Figure Fantasy currently on view at ICA Miami, Wonder Women on view at Jeffrey Deitch and In My Heart, a public art commission for Rockefeller Center with Art Production Fund (2021).
Dreaming at Sunset is an homage to ritual, spirituality, and shared human histories. The mermaid reclines in water dotted with translucent lotuses and light waves. The setting sun in the magenta sky reflects out along the surface of the water in gold, washed highlights framing the figure. Part of a recent body of work concerning myth and oral tradition, Schahbaz’s mermaids were born when the artist emerged from a deep period of sadness. Engaging in the breadth of cultures with female sea creatures and goddesses, such as the Inuit Sedna, West Africa Mami Wata, or the South East Asian Suvannamaccha, the artist created her own myth of a woman’s gulf of tears and sadness, blessing her with a magical tail to swim the sea of her tears and find strength in vulnerability. The artist has hand-embellished the edition with a combination of watercolor, gouache, gold leaf, collaged birds and flowers, and a written blessing, making each print a unique work.
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