The trippy, sensuous surrealist is celebrating her first solo show in New York City
KAPOW is pleased to present “Alter Ego,” the debut New York City solo show by Brooklyn-based multimedia artist Sanié Bokhari. The exhibition presents half a dozen new works on canvas made entirely by Bokhari in 2023. A clean break delineating each half of the works in the show illustrates a critical, recent turning point in the artist’s stylistic approach — and its impact on her steady subject matter, exploring diverse dichotomies around the alter ego.
Born in Lahore, Pakistan in 1991, Bokhari went on to earn her B.A. in painting from the city’s National College of the Arts— where she taught for two years after graduating in 2014. In 2016, the artist moved to America to earn her M.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design. Bokhari returned to Lahore afterwards, where she mastered the intensely technical South Asian tradition of miniature painting, perfecting the art of rendering images on a very small scale. The artist relocated to New York City in 2019, and has had a studio in Greenpoint since last year.
While still studying, Bokhari’s early work focused more on abstract sculptures grounded in her heritage. Time has led her practice onto the picture plane physically, while seeking universality conceptually. Elements of the many cultures she’s come to call home persist in these mixed media paintings, but Bokhari herself says they’re “neither here nor there.” She approaches art as an avenue to catharsis. Her scenes begin as self portraits before taking on a life of their own.
Time empowers more and more chance to enter Bokhari’s practice. At present, each canvas starts with a wash that provides the abstract, random shapes that shake out into characters. Viewers can easily determine which works were made in the first half of 2023 and which were made in this second half of this year according to their principal hues. Works with pure graphite drawings, red accents, and seas of black glitter are earlier. Those featuring similar scenes but bluer palettes marked by luminous pastels are more recent. Bokhari made a much awaited trip to the Picasso Museum in Paris during summertime which led to her current fascination with the legend’s Blue Period. Magic, mushrooms, and archetypal goddesses unite these different sides.
Divine disco bathers around the pond of “Kids in the Dark” symbolize Bokhari’s affinity for nightlife, counterculture, and raucous female empowerment. The artist originally grew up rejecting the Pakistani notion that life starts with marriage and kids. For a long time she fought hard against her parents, but age has helped her understand the necessary tensions in all of our lives between freedom and home, female beauty and power. Behind those bathers, for instance, Bokhari copied stanzas of Faiz Ahmed Faiz in the melancholic poet’s native Urdu. The script’s so dense it looks abstract at first. Though her work has become more surreal with time, Bokari’s story prevails in the layered identities exposing humanity’s many facets in “Alter Ego.”
Sanié Bokhari Sanié Bokhari (b.1991) is a mixed media artist born in Lahore, Pakistan. She holds a BFA from the National College of Arts, Lahore and an MFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design. She was the recipient of the President’s Scholarship at RISD, and was selected to work with the contemporary art curator at the RISD Museum. She has exhibited her work in numerous shows in Pakistan and the US, including Canvas Gallery in Karachi, Harper’s Gallery in Los Angeles & Aicon Gallery in NYC. Her residencies include Vermont Studio Center, NARS Foundation, PLOP residency, Vasl Residency, Macedonia Institute Residency and Field Residency. Her work is included in various publications including The OG Magazine, G5A: imprint, Mumbai and Artseen magazine. Her work has been acquired by notable collections including the Nion McEvoy Foundation, as well as the private collections of Dr. Fadi Braiteh and OJ Prakash, director of Levy Gorvy Hong Kong.