Rukhe Neelofer Zaidi

Rukhe Neelofer Zaidi (Pakistan) 08/2014

“The wall I chose to paint has the nameplate of Maria Grazia Cutuli, a brave young female Italian journalist who worked to promote education in Afghanistan. She was brutally murdered by the Taliban who have been burning schools in Pakistan also. These Taliban terrorists are against education, especially for girls. We, in Pakistan, have suffered and are still suffering from the actions and mindset of Taliban terrorists.

The mural that I am painting on this wall depicts Maria’s house with her nameplate outside its door. Light is coming out of that door indicating hope and knowledge. Children are playing outside. On the other end (to the left) of the mural is the building of the school in Afghanistan run by the Maria Foundation Trust.”

Rukhe Neelofer, Pakistan

I find solace and release in my art, using it as a means of meditation and catharsis. The size, scale, colors, technique, and subjects of my paintings serve as reflections of my internal thoughts, struggles, and personal growth, often providing a means of deflecting from them as well. Each deliberate action, from selecting colors to mixing paints on a palette and applying brushstrokes to canvas, becomes a performative ritual of mindfulness, allowing me to escape the burdens of the past and future. In those moments, I am liberated from my own constraints, and yet the essence of myself is infused within every stroke.

While I previously enjoyed painting human subjects, my focus has shifted towards nature as of late. I am drawn to its inherent beauty, magnificence, and the diverse flora and fauna it encompasses. Nature also provides a framework through which I can explore the human form. This change in direction stems from a reaction to the deteriorating socio-political climate in our country. In a society that is plagued by division and negativity, social media and national news inundate us with images of desperate and angry individuals crying out for justice, safety, and basic human rights that seem frustratingly out of reach. In this environment, I consciously choose to redirect my attention towards more hopeful and natural ways of existence.

By painting subjects that are serene and beautiful, I have made a deliberate choice not only for myself but also for the benefit of my audience. I derive joy from crafting intricate motifs, striving to infuse my work with expressiveness and visual interest by striking a balance between intricate details and flat areas. Nature serves as a symbol of freedom and hope in my artistic expression, offering a pathway to escape the mundanity of everyday life and embrace a more profound existence.