Saira Wasim

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Saira Wasim is a noted contemporary artist from Lahore, Pakistan. She currently lives in United States. Wasim uses the miniature style of painting, pioneered by the Persians but extensively used in South Asia, to make primarily political and cultural art. Wasim's art has been showcased in a number of premiere museums including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, and Asian Art Museum.


Ms. Wasim was born in Lahore, Pakistan. She belongs to the Ahmadiyya Community. Ms. Wasim has recently noted that persecution as an Ahmadiyya was key in shaping her artistic perspectives. She has so far hesitated to address the topic in her art.

Ms. Wasim went to National College of Arts (in Lahore), from where she graduated with a Bachelors in Fine Arts with focus in miniature painting in 1999.Dawn art critic Ali Adil Khan describes her as part of "magnificent seven" along with Muhammed Imran Qureshi, Tazeen Qayyum, Aisha Khalid, Talha Rathore, Nusra Latif Qureshi, and Reeta Saeed- who brought back miniatures [1]

Ms. Wasim has held positions as a Visiting Artist at numerous important places including

Artistic approach[edit]

Saira Wasim draws Persian Miniatures to make devastating political commentary. Using traditional art to make modern commentary has proliferated within the Asian contemporary art world with artists like Chottu Lal, and Rageshwar Singh using the folk and religious traditions to make art.[2]

Saira's pet political topics are commenting on the vast chasm that exists between the West and the Islamic world, repression within Islamic world, and the new Western cultural imperialism.

"My work uses the contemporary miniature form to explore social and political issues that divide the modern world. This series, Battle for Hearts and Minds, illustrates the clash between imperialism in the west and fundamentalism in the east, and questions the underlying motivations and uneasy alliances that keep this conflict going.

My work offers a voice against this ignorance and prejudice. It pleas for social justice, respect, and tolerance through the use of caricature and satire." [3]

New York Times describes her work as "exquisite political cartoons that conjure William Hogarth and sometimes borrow directly from Norman Rockwell."[4]


Solo Shows:

  • 2005. ‘Political Carousel’ South Western University, Texas.

Two-Person Shows

  • 2004 Transcendent contemplations, green cardamom @ Hosain, London with Hasnat Mahmood (Catalogue)
  • 2003 Rohtas 2 Gallery, Lahore with Waseem Ahmad

Selected Group Exhibitions:

  • ‘Double Conscience’ at Mattress Factory Museum Pitsburg – 2007
  • ‘One way or another Asian American art now’ at Asia Society New York -2006 (catalogue)
  • ‘Karkhana’: a Contemporary Collaboration at Asian Art Museum San Francisco, USA-2006
  • American Effect, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (catalogue) - 2003
  • 125th Celebrations of National College of Arts and Millennium exhibition in National College of Arts Gallery, Pakistan- 2000


  1. ^ "Miniatures get a 'neo' tag". 29 November 2009 – via The Hindu. 
  2. ^ Datta, Sravasti (17 August 2010). "Miniature revolutions" – via The Hindu. 
  3. ^ Asia Society,
  4. ^ "A Mélange of Asian Roots and Shifting Identities". The New York Times. 8 September 2006. 

External links[edit]