Ayessha Quraishi is a self-taught painter. She received her initial art training from Karachi-based educator Nayyar Jamil. Her solo shows include “Open Presence,” KOEL Gallery, Karachi (2016); “Liminal,” Khaas Art Gallery, Islamabad (2013); “Continuous / Present,” Rothas II, Lahore (2013); and “Letters From An Underground Vein Read,” KOEL Gallery, Karachi, (2012). She has also participated in Biennial Izimir (2011); the Bodrum Biennial (2013); and Mostra Internazionale di Pittura, Matera, Italy (2014). Her residences include “Recorded Time,” KOEL Gallery (2017); “Hic – 2” Workshop, Turgutreis / Bodrum, Turkey, (2013); Winter Academy, Fayoum, Egypt (2011); International Painting Symposium, Luxor, Egypt (2010) and Association Saint-Henri, France (1996).
Ayessha Quraishi writes of her photographic project for KB17: “I started photographing hoardings seven years ago. The scale of the metal grid and how it framed the sky fascinated me. I felt these empty frames mirrored the perspectives of individual lives that see a slice of the picture, not the entire panorama. Through the frames, I would often watch the grey Karachi sky change colour. Occasionally, I would spot kites glide through them, never knowing on which side of the structure the birds were until they became larger or smaller. Some disappeared. I felt that we too pass through life like birds traversing empty frames. Though the sky was often nondescript, I felt the empty frames offered me a space for reflection. Soon, the breathing space that allowed reverie was occupied and the sky in my eye shrunk. Due to the absence of a local government system, there was no regulator to oversee the mushrooming of billboards in the city. By 2015 Karachi had almost turned into a giant advertisement with every street littered with huge hoardings, many on structures so flawed they led to repeated loss of lives. On May 5th 2016 the Supreme Court maintained that there was no law that permits installing outdoor advertising on billboards, hoardings and signboards on public property and ordered the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, the Defence Housing Authority and all the cantonment boards to remove hoardings across the city by June 30th 2016. They were taken down but left by the roadsides and empty plots. A year later they still lie there.”