Mahwish Chishty to open her first solo international exhibition at IWM London

Tuesday 30th August 2016 10:18 EDT

US-based artist Mahwish Chishty, born in Pakistan and raised in Saudi Arabia, opens her first solo international exhibition at IWM London with a selection of 2D and 3D works from her Drone Art series. She will be exhibiting her most recent drone model Reaper for the first time.

The exhibition that will run from 19 October 2016 – 19 March 2017, will feature a mixture of sculptural paintings on wood, painted drone models and works on paper. Each piece reflects Chishty’s training in traditional miniature painting and many will be painted in the style of colourful Pakistani folk art. Inspired by a trip to Pakistan in 2011, Chishty uses her pieces to comment on the ongoing drone war in the country.

Struck by the pervasive and constant presence of foreign drones in Pakistan, Chishty’s designs combine symbols of violence and contemporary warfare with Pakistani artistic and cultural traditions. They highlight how foreign unmanned aircraft have become a feature of the physical, psychological and cultural environment of the country. The exhibition display will evoke this reality, as drone models and sculptural paintings are placed throughout the gallery, sometimes above eye level without frame or glass barriers, protruding from the walls to seemingly surround and hover above the viewer.

Each piece also blends traditional techniques with contemporary practice and provides layers of meaning within the works. For example, the patterns of the painted drones echo the decoration used by haulage trucks across Pakistan to adorn their vehicles. Tea-stained paper creates a neutral background but also alludes to the brown tone of aerial photographs taken from drone surveillance footage. Photographs of Pakistani street scenes taken by local news media are transferred and overlaid directly onto her sculptural paintings of drones, referencing their constant and commonplace presence.

This exhibition will mark the first time IWM will show work by a non-British artist who has direct links with the region where this type of war is fought, and reflects the current state of globalised conflict. It is part of the IWM Contemporary programme, which is dedicated to creating exhibitions by leading artists and photographers whose work is a response to war and conflict. Mahwish Chishty is the most recent exhibition in the programme, and follows shows by artists including Omer Fast, Hew Locke, Imogen Stidworthy, Nick Danziger and Edward Barber.

Mahwish Chishty said, "I am delighted to be holding my first solo exhibition outside the US at IWM. When I embarked on the drone series, my primary intention was to make unmanned aerial aircrafts as visible as possible, contrary to their invisible presence in the affected areas. As a Pakistani-American, I feel the responsibility to address these issues that hopefully will open up a dialogue about the complexities of modern warfare."

Alex Walton, Curator of IWM Contemporary: Mahwish Chishty, said, "This exhibition is highly relevant to British audiences who wish to gain further insight into global conflict, and it builds on the IWM Contemporary programme, which continues to push boundaries."

Mahwish Chishty is a contemporary artist combining new media and conceptual work with her traditional practice as a painter. Chishty has exhibited her work nationally and internationally at venues including Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MOCADA), Brooklyn NY; University of Technology (UTS Gallery), Sydney, Australia; University of Michigan, Maryland Art Place, Baltimore, MD; and Canvas Gallery, Karachi, Pakistan. Her works are held in both public and private collections. This will be the first time that the artist’s work is shown in the United Kingdom. 

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