Waqas Khan

Born 1982 in Akhtarabad, Pakistan. Lives and works in Lahore, Pakistan



Born 1982 in Akhtarabad, Pakistan

Lives and works in Lahore, Pakistan

Waqas Khan is influenced by the delicate Bardhakhat procedure, based on the traditional Persian Mughal miniature painting. Transforming the traditional practice of miniature painting into a contemporary context, Khan applies millions of tiny dots, lines and stripes meticulously to the paper with a dowel, usually used by architects for technical drafting. “In my work I challenge miniature painting, and at the same time, leave it open for discussion.” The result appears as a fusion of different media: from the distance one experiences the artwork being a print, going closer seeing that the fine structure is not printed but made by hand. The focus of Khan’s art lies on the emotional and spiritual connection to the observer: „I want the viewer to actually look at the works and through my work I want to evoke a dialogue between the viewer and the work. It’s all about assimilating from outside to inside and letting the outside image enter inside you.“ The final product is akin to a visual narration, which should be read and explored by the spectator. 

To approach the oeuvre of Waqas Khan is to discover an existential statement that is at once decisive and delicate; to sense a truth that is deep, convincing and subtle. In his drawings we perceive the strength of a will that hopes to leave a mark on the existential space we all share and that opens us up to the awareness of the passing of time. These compositions have been defined as minimalist, and yet they do not match the rigid aesthetic of industrial serialisation that lies at the origin of the name. In Waqas Khan’s visual narratives, syntax is based on repetitions and series of similar though unique signs connected by pauses, breaks and rhythms that are absolutely organic. These precise signs appear as his studio is gradually permeated by solitude and the silence of night. This is when the artist, as a medium, contributes to the flow of the élan vital that springs from his thoughts and emotions. His individual rhythms end up configuring maps in which the viewer will play an active role, striking up a dialogue between equals in a game of mirror reflections. 

Waqas Khan studied at the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan. In 2018, he was awarded the NDTV Spectrum award in transformation in visual arts in Southeast Asia and the ACTA award in arts. In 2013, he was nominated for the Jameel Prize. 

His work has been shown in exhibitions at Toronto Biennial of Art, Arsenal Contemporary Art Toronto, Toronto, Canada (group) (2022), HBL Tower, Karachi, Pakistan (2021), MUSAC, León, Spain (2019), Lahore Biennale 01, Lahore, Pakistan (group) (2018), Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester, GB (2017), 57thVenice Biennale, Venice, Italy (group), Pera Museum, Istanbul, Turkey (group) (2017), Villa Empain Fondation Boghossian, Brussels, Belgium (group), Dhaka Art Summit 2016 , Dhaka, Bangladesh (group) (2016), Museu Nacional de Escultura, Valladolid, Spain (group) (2015), Jameel Prize 3, NTU Singapore, Singapore, Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, Sharjah (group) (2015), Hermitage Kazan Museum, Menge Museum Moscow, Moscow (group) (2014), Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck, Austria (2014), Ursula Blickle Foundation, Vienna (group) (2013), Victoria & Albert Museum, London (group) (2013) among others.