Farazeh Syed (b. 1971) is an artist based in Lahore. After completing two years of the fundamental program
at National College of Arts, Farazeh went on to acquire a diploma in print making at Gandhara Art School,
Islamabad. Inspired by the Ustad-Shagird (mentor-apprentice) relationship, she then trained with renowned
painter Iqbal Hussain for fifteen years. There, she learnt painting and an acute understanding of the human
form, subsequently, refining her own visual and conceptual vocabulary. During this period, Syed also
attended Continuing Education courses in painting/drawing at Parsons and Art Students League, New York.
As a Research Associate at Sanjan Nagar Institute of Art and Philosphy, Syed has lectured on South Asian
Classical Music and cultural history at National College of Arts, Musicology Department. She has been
involved in art teaching/ training through formal classes, lectures and talks. She recently completed her
Masters (Hons.) in Visual Arts (2014-2015) from National College of Arts.
Known for her often dark and unsettling paintings, it is the female who dominates Syed’s imagery. Drawing
upon ancient Indian art and folk texts—in which the woman is the active and authoritative protagonist—and
her own biography for inspiration, Syed creates bold satirical narratives that are imbued with subtle sexual
undertones. It is through these narratives that she addresses issues of identity, sexuality, gender politics and
patriarchal social structures. Her work challenges conventional notions of beauty and the ubiquitous Western
art historical representation of the female body as a visual metaphor for sensuality/eroticism and an
aesthetic ‘object’ of pleasure for the male gaze. Syed’s thematic concern, therefore, is to de-objectify and demystify the female body, portraying the ‘authentic’ woman as an individual with personal strength and
dynamism. Using paint and mix media, Syed uses both semi-translucent and opaque layering in her work to
create a rich visual and perceptual experience.
Farazeh has been exhibiting her work extensively. Her recent solo show was held in October 2017 at Sanat
Gallery, Karachi. Other solo exhibitions were held at Unicorn Gallery, Karachi and Alhamra Art Gallery,
Lahore. Recent group shows include Four Women Four Stories, Sanat Gallery Karachi; Love Letters, Sanat
Gallery, Karachi; ‘The Imago Mundi Project for Pakistan’, Imago Mundi Pavilion, Venice Biennale; Recent
Works, by Farazeh Syed, Buland Iqbal and Alee Saad, Chawkandi Art, Karachi; MA (Hons.) Visual Arts Degree
Show, Zahoor al Akhlaque Gallery, National College of Arts, Lahore; Figure in Movement, Abrar Ahmed, Ashok
Bhowmick, Farazeh Syed and Noori Berdi, Unicorn Gallery, Karachi; United- in the Age of Dialogue, National
Art Gallery, Islamabad; Contemporary Art Fair 2011, A Rastay project; Representational is not a Dirty Word,
Poppy Seed Gallery, Karachi.