Biography

For Shanzay Subzwari, objects are cultural signifiers. Her practice is influenced by her training in Mughal Miniature painting, whose use of delicate paper, attention to detail and layering emerged first in her mixed media works and collage, and currently in her video and cinemagraphs. Subzwari often uses a physical object as a point of instigation, demonstrating an interest in material histories, and how they relate to Postcolonial theory and cross-cultural experiences today. Through analogue and digital collage she examines the Surrealism of the contemporary globalised condition, drawing upon her experiences living in the major cosmopolitan cities Karachi and London. Despite her conceptual complexity Subzwari’s conversations are approachable as she combines internationally relatable imagery such as currency notes, popular culture references and stills from current affairs.

Shanzay graduated with a Masters of Fine Art with Distinction from the School of Art, Architecture and Design, London Metropolitan University on the prestigious British Chevening Scholarship (2019/2020), and a Bachelors of Fine Art from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Karachi (2014) with a Distinction in her dissertation and the Award for Academic Excellence in Fine Art. Shanzay is frequently invited to participate in exhibitions both in Pakistan and internationally, including in London (2020, 2019, 2016), Venice, Italy (2019, as part of Imago Mundi at The Venice Biennale), Fribourg, Switzerland (2016), and Istanbul, Turkey (2011), and her work has been represented by GraFFik Gallery, London. She was invited as a fully-funded ‘Watch and Talk’ participant at the Festival Belluard Bollwerk International, Fribourg, Switzerland in 2016, the SAARI artist residency in Mynamaki, Finland in 2018, and was part of the Dean’s Seminar on Art and Value in Madrid, Spain (2020).

Shanzay’s work has been acquired for the Hundal Collection at the South Asian Institute, Chicago, USA, The AAN Collection, Hong Kong/Pakistan and The Furqaan Ahmed Collection, Pakistan among other notable collections. Along with her full-time artist practice, Shanzay writes art reviews, articles and catalogue essays for numerous publications. In 2015 she launched a private arts education venture, The Art Lounge, that provides classes on fine art and art history tailored to individual needs.

(Written by Zena Khan, art curator and critic, AFK Collection, Malaysia, and Chloe Hodge, curator and arts journalist, UK. Originally published on Platform Asia UK’s website)