Artist Faiza Butt Speaks on Artistic Inequality for Stellar International Art Foundation

Internationally renowned artist, Faiza Butt and award-winning writer and art historian, Dr. Sona Datta have spoken out about artistic inequality at a recent event hosted by the Stellar International Art Foundation.

Held at the Church House in Westminster on the 5th of March, the event was curated to discuss the major issues affecting artists globally, with a particular focus on the enabling the discussion about gender and cultural prejudice in the art world today.

In alignment with International Women’s Day and artist, Faiza Butt’s work, the debate channeled a polemical approach regarding the affect of both social patriarchy and the global sanctions imposed upon women.

Faiza Butt

Trained at The National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan and thereafter completing a scholarship at The Slade School of Fine Art, London, Faiza is now an award-winning artist having received the Berger Gold Medal for Outstanding Student of the Year and the UNESCO Ashberg Bursary, which permitted her to practice in South Africa while running workshops for aspiring artisans.

Faiza Butt, Untitled, 2017, Ink on polyester film, 50x42cm, image courtesy Faiza Butt

In her creations, she recreates the female gaze and generates female autonomy through invoking a subtle eroticization of the male figures in her art, who are based predominately on images of men found in various newspapers and magazines. As the spectator, we are enraptured by these male subjects’ distant gazes and unwittingly, we gaze on, becoming the oblivious spectator subjecting these male forms to different objectifications. The whimsical, cosmic backgrounds Butt’s male figures occupy act as another form of objectification, as these male forms come to represent the objects of our dreams.

Subverting Prejudice

However, alongside gender imbalances, Butt applies the Muslim background of these men, found in newspapers and magazines, to challenge the pejorative depiction of them as terrorists. She embellishes these images with vibrant backgrounds and expands the images to thereby place them into a wider context; their enlargement challenges the common cropping of images employed by tabloids for their own political agenda.

See also: Patrick Altes Exhibition ‘Tolerance’ Confronts Negative Cultural Stereotypes 

The process by which Butt completes these pieces is through the painstaking, dot painting style that relies on an incredible level of attention to detail; these dots are what provide the paintings with its immense, photographic resemblance.


Faiza Butt, Phantom, 2015, ink and paint on coated polyester film, 84.1×59.4cm, courtesy Faiza Butt

Honouring Posterity

Speaking of the event, Faiza Butt asserted, “Art has a purpose in society… it’s not made to make anyone comfortable. I have long endeavoured to challenge social stereotypes to provoke reaction through my artwork. My driving motivation has always been to celebrate women and to empower younger generations and I am incredibly honoured to take a leading role at this event.”

Butt’s emphasis on the empowerment of our next generation to ensure social growth is paramount in her artworks of children in Pakistan. Her portrayal of children in her paintings draw attention to the social and political climate of Pakistan, especially the most recent rise in sectarian violence. The transparent naivety of the children, Butt suggests, reminds us the spectator to ensure we are continuously working towards enabling growth.

Faiza Butt, Phantom 3, 2015, ink on coated polyester film, 35.5x34cm, courtesy Faiza Butt

Founder of Stellar Art, Mrs Anita Choudhrie rounded off the event concluding,  “Stellar has long championed artistic talent regardless of background or gender and we hope that our latest event is another illustration of our dedication to female cultural expression and exploration.”

Established in 2008, The Stellar Collection has become internationally renowned for its content, coverage and activities around the globe and is a particular champion of female artists and feminist art. Under Managing Director Anya Zakharova, the foundation now comprises over 800 works dating from the late 19th Century to the present day, including international artists and ranging from sculptures to paintings.

(L-R) Anya Zakharova, Anita Choudhrie, Dr Sona Datta, Faiza Butt

See Also:

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