Adeel uz Zafar is an emerging contemporary artist from Pakistan who is deeply committed to creative expression through experimentation. Born in 1975 in Karachi, Pakistan, Adeel completed his BFA from National College of Arts (NCA) Lahore in 1998, he later returned to Karachi and joined Karachi School of Arts as an instructor.
Adeel started his early career as an illustrator that gave him considerable experience of working with the finest and reputable publishing houses in Pakistan, and provided him the opportunity to make his contributions to a multitude of academic curriculum text books. He mentions his sojourn in the suburbs of Gilgit momentous, where he went as a national illustration consultant for Northern Areas Education Project. The unavailability of conventional art material in that rural and remote area led him to investigate into substitutes for paints and surfaces. Having developed the engraving technique on the exposed photographic sheet by using paper cutter, he scratched drawings onto them mostly based on empirical observation and by modifying them in his signature graphic style. This is something which he considers, has made his place in the contemporary Pakistani art scene.
He joined Indus Valley School of Art in 2008 where he exhibited his work, almost after a complete decade from his first college display, in the IVSA Faculty show. The show at V.M. Art Gallery, Karachi in 2009 was a turning point in Adeel’s career which catapulted him into the league of emerging artists of Pakistan. He came up with a humongous scale this time, retaining his hold on the meticulous skill and the objects he made an illustration history with. These props were singular, fluffed cuddly toys, very symbolically wrapped in gauze bandage. He engraved them on large adjoined pieces of plastic vinyl sheet coated with emulsion and acrylic gel. The small toy was blown up to a monstrous size with a pitch black background, and the intricately manifested concealing weave of the cloth opened many connotations regarding furtive and ambiguous identity.
This style and technique was further experimented through a group show of four artists at Art Chowk-the Gallery, Karachi, titled ‘Being a Man in Pakistan’ (2009) – which has initiated a dialogue for the artist to reflect upon various issues, both social and political at times out of the box.
Adeel associates his childhood memories and his perpetual dealing with subjects for children as the core of his imagery development. He symbolizes this bandaging manipulation as the delusive ipseity. He alters the dainty characteristic by transforming the identity of the object, driving it into a rather serious orientation. Whereas, his flamboyant command over the painstaking patterned strokes may appear principled to miniaturesque craftsmanship.
Recently, Adeel has participated in both national and international art exhibits such as the RM Naeem Residency, Lahore, Pakistan, ‘On the brink’ at Fost Gallery, Singapore and at Slick Art, Paris. He has also been selected for an exhibition showcasing a decade of a new wave of Pakistani artists who have contributed to the ever growing diverse vocabulary of contemporary art that has evolved from South East Asia ‘The Rising Tide – new directions in art from Pakistan 1990-2010’.
Adeel uz Zafar currently works and resides with his wife Nehdia and two children in Karachi.