“Balagamwala is aware of portrait painting’s potential for myth-making and memorialising, and she is unafraid to subvert it. Her dexterity and shrewd understanding of painting’s formal concerns enables her to impact the way her work is experienced. She draws figureswith exaggerated features morphing into animal horns, beaks, and fruit in a quirky medley of associations. Even when the figuresretain their human form, their proportions feel presumptuous. In one painting, the notion of a canvas stretching out to accommodate a two feet long nose is absurd, as is the frame length which must accompany it. The extent of these exaggerations turns idiosyncrasies into mockeries. There is no reverence in the depictions here, and the only seriousness feels that of the need for play.
The mostly atonal pastel palette of these paintings also contains irony. Historically royal markers such as the precious blue pigment of lapis lazuli are traded in for the colors of industrial plastics and cheap children’s tools; so bright and loud there is no room for the subtle grace of stateliness. The frames containing these paintings have matching palettes to boot. Once, these beautifully engraved, ornamental frames were gilded symbols of power and money, built to fitthe elegance within them. But now, they have been repainted into gaudy aesthetic faux pas, begging of the figuresdepicted: Who are these strange characters, or rather caricatures, making dubious aesthetic choices and spending money in all the wrong places? If these portraits are the imaginations of their figures,then the imaginations
are that of self-righteous and obnoxious men who, as the lords of their own myths, become spectacles for us to behold.”
From the essay States of Irreverence, byFiza Khatri, 2018
Justice Jaman, Acrylic on canvas, fibreglass frame, 19” x 23”, 2017
Ongoing, 2018 onwards
UFFF, Foam clay and acrylic on canvas, fibreglass frame, 36” x 48”, 2018
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO, foam clay, dimensions variable
GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY, Foam Clay, 2018
BIG MEN WEAR REALLY BIG SHOES
Solo Exhibition at Sanat Gallery, Karachi, Pakistan 2018.
“Painters don’t really change, they make progress. The humor in Balagamwala’s titles has spilled over into word paintings. Boots don’t just appear in the show’s title, they make an appearance both in a wonderfully painted thin set of legs and an installation. The figureshave grown somber. The most poignant is a picture of a man with a very long phallus-like nose, he’s trapped in a frame very different from the others and his epaulette has started to disappear.”
From the essay ‘Twelve small notes on Sophia Balagamwala (that can be read in random order)’ by Ali Sultan, 2018
The Moonch and his Poof
A Solo Exhibition at Bibliowicz Family Gallery, Milstein Hall, Cornell University, 2014
The Perfect Gentleman
A Group Exhibition presented by Project Art Divvy and Rossi & RossifeaturingSophia Balagamwala, Saud Baloch, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Maria Khan and Abdullah Qureshi.
”This exhibition seeks to challenge established archetypes of manliness and, in particular, toxic masculinity. Narratives throughout literature and history have depicted daring, brave men as the ideal: men who have stood up for their beliefs, defended their women, and demanded the respect of their peers and subordinates. These are strong men with an entrenched fear of emotional vulnerability, and who follow the adage, “boys don’t cry”. Similar antiquated references continue to pervade contemporary culture. Through their bold, diverse artworks, the artists in this exhibition respond to the prescribed tenets of manliness, including the behavioural and physical attributes of historically accepted macho bravado.”
Zahra Khan, Project Art Divvy
Acrylic on canvas, wooden frame 10” X 12” 2018
Ongoing series, 2015 onwards
Untitled, Plasticine and screen print on paper, 2014
Untitled, Screen print on paper, 2015
Untitled, Screen print on paper, 2014
Jinnah with flowers, Plasticine and screen print on paper, 2014
A exhibtion featuring the work of 13 multidisciplinary artists curated by Sophia Balagamwala.
Accompanied by readings, performances and a discussion facilitated by the Karachi Crit Group.