Women & Leadership: Discovering the Aga Khan Museum: In conversation with Pakistan’s Genius Artist – Aisha Khalid

In a series of conversations held by Ismailimail during the inauguration of the Aga Khan Museum while reporting from Toronto, we share an account of the discussion with Aisha Khalid.

“The background is a Mughal garden, which symbolizes heaven … the process of making it was very meditative. It is a real honor to have it permanently displayed at the Aga Khan Museum.”

– Aisha Khalid, Lahore born, Pakistani artist

Aisha Khalid next to "Your Way Begins on the Other Side"
Aisha Khalid next to “Your Way Begins on the Other Side”

Ismailimail with the editor of Simerg.com, met  Aisha Khalid at the pre-opening press conference, while taking a break before exploring the temporary exhibit “The Garden of Ideas” on display.

As we sat staring at a huge carpet hanging from the ceiling in the museum’s wide atrium, where light filtered through mashrabiya patterns on the glass walls, we noticed the dual sided tapestry with exquisite design.

As our admiration of the tapestry increased with our chatter, the lady sitting next to us started smiling. We asked her what she thought of the carpet. “I made this carpet”, she said as her smile widened with pride. As we exchanged introductions, she continued to explain to us that the Mughal Garden motif carpet decorated with 1.2 million gold and silver pins, were all placed by hand.

A six meters long tapestry ‘Your Way Begins’ by Aisha Khalid (Photo via Dawn/ Aga Khan Museum)
A six meters long tapestry ‘Your Way Begins’ by Aisha Khalid (Photo via Dawn/ Aga Khan Museum)

The six metres long delicately patterned and Persian styled carpet has gold and silver pins to create outlines of animals and a garden. The 1.2 million pins protrude to the other side to form a silky carpet look in burnished gold and red. Aptly named, Your Way Begins on the Other Side is the work of Aisha Khalid from Lahore in Pakistan, we were reminded.

We were amazed by the level of effort required to create this magnificent piece of art but more so by the innovative idea behind the work and the spiritual significance of it. A truly compelling piece, no one visiting the museum can leave without marveling at its magnificence. Your way begins on the other side, looks beautiful both from the front as well as from the reverse.

Aisha Khalid with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and His Highness The Agha Khan showing her 59 Paintings from the period 1998-2014 being on display at Agha Khan Museum, Toronto
Aisha Khalid with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and His Highness the Aga Khan showing her 59 Paintings from the period 1998-2014 being on display at Aga Khan Museum, Toronto

The Garden of Ideas exhibition also brings together a very extensive body of works of Aisha Khalid. Displaying 59 of Khalid’s paintings, the exhibition provides the unique opportunity to view the much celebrated artist’s journey over the past two decades- a mini retrospective of sorts.

As we bade farewell to go explore The Garden of Ideas exhibition, I thought to myself that the Aga Khan Museum with its exhibitions and various themes had become a fertile garden sprouting geniuses.

Glancing at the Your Way Begins on the Other Side one more time, I was convinced that Aisha too was a genius … much the same way as I though of Imran Qureshi, her husband. I am glad that I had met them and got to know their work better.

Aisha Khalid and her peers have done Pakistan proud in addition to many more who have become fans of their artwork.

The Garden of Ideas exhibition concludes next week, don’t miss it!

Images from her Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/aishakhalid72


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