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Pakistani painter makes splashy début at Art Beat

Khair and her work full of 'spice' says event organizer

By: Scott Hayes

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 06:00 am

ART WITH SPICE – Fatima Khair's paintings are described as vibrant, colourful and passionate.
ART WITH SPICE – Fatima Khair's paintings are described as vibrant, colourful and passionate.
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First Anniversary Show
Featuring Fatima Khair
Thursday, Oct. 4 from 6 to 9 p.m.
Artist will be in attendance.
Wine and appetizers will be served.
Art Beat Gallery
26 St. Anne Street
Call 780-459-3679 or visit for more information.

There are subtle ways of announcing a new artist on the scene, and then there’s the Fatima Khair way. The Pakistani-born painter is getting her big début at Art Beat Gallery tomorrow, and the opening will feature a big number of her oil works, some in large scale, and all of a wide variety of subjects.

What’s more, as gallery owner Brigitte Strand explains, is that it’s full of flavour.

“She brings something that is mystical to me.”

“It’s different. There’s a spice to it,” she began. “A lot of people will tell you that paintings are vibrant and passionate and colourful. We all hear that. Every artist can paint that way. But spice is a different thing. You have to be born in that kind of spicy environment and stuff has to happen to you in order to see life through different eyes.”

Khair paints pretty much everything: still life, street scenes, landscapes, abstracts, abstract landscapes … and it’s true what Strand says about the work. It’s not just the colours that are already pretty vivid and wonderful in and of themselves. There’s a texture and a dimension that makes them stand out. They’re heightened in some way.

To demonstrate, she points out a scene of a stone-laden street somewhere far away from Edmonton’s concrete playgrounds. It isn’t photorealistic but the loving impression is indelible.

“Isn’t that beautiful bougainvillea? It’s funky and you can sense the texture and again, isn’t there an element of spice? She does seascapes and you can hear the crushing waves. The perfection of the painting doesn’t have to be there, but the concept and the feeling does.”

“I like that freedom of style which also comes from cultures that don’t give a hoot about what should be.”

For her part, Khair must understand the notion of painting with pizzazz. Her recent body of work suggests not only a devotion to diversity of content (naturally to satisfy a diverse and broad audience) but also to media. This is her first gallery show.

With a degree in fine arts and a diploma in interior design and fabric painting, she keeps busy and it shows. She’s new on the St. Albert scene for this reason and also because she just joined up with the ever-growing crew of the Visual Arts Studio Association.

The gallery walls will be full of art come tomorrow evening and some of the display spaces will too. The artist also has some fine hand-painted silk scarves for sale.

There isn’t much she hasn’t done. She spent most of her painting life working with watercolours, but has dabbled in acrylics too. She has been trained in basic Batik, tie-dye and block printing methods as well. But it’s oil painting that has her heart right now.

“I love it!” she admits. “I don’t think I can ever go back to the transparency of watercolour. For me, my oils … they give me some trouble but I love the vibrancy, the playtime with oil colours. I can go back two days later and I can change it without worrying about it.”

She added that as much as she dabbles in media and techniques, she said Strand’s comment about her diversity is her defining characteristic. She’ll paint anything and everything.

“It can be an old barn door and people would just throw it out. I’ll pick it up. I’m not just focused on pots and pans. I love seascapes. I love to do abstract seascapes.”

It goes without mention that her very expressive dancing figures show her love of people studies too.

Khair tipped her hat to Strand by praising Art Beat’s warmth and welcoming atmosphere. She said that Edmonton as a whole has a very strong and supportive artistic community. She actually first popped up at the gallery as the guest instructor during last month’s Picasso and Pinot Noir public painting event.

Her next public showing will be at MLA Rachel Notley’s growing annual art show called Art from the Unknown. It provides no-cost gallery space to new and emerging visual and performing artists, especially low-income artists, in the community. That takes place from Friday, Oct. 26 to Sunday, Oct. 28 at the Old Strathcona Centre for the Performing Arts, also known as the Cosmopolitan Music Society, 8426 Gateway Blvd.

When November comes, she looks forward to being one of the numerous artists featured in the publication of the coffee table book, International Contemporary Masters VI put out by World Wide Art Books.


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