Born 1978 Quetta, Pakistan
Lives and works in Sydney, Australia
After growing up in Pakistan as a refugee, Afghan artist Khadim Ali was trained in classical miniature painting at the National College of Arts in Lahore and in mural painting and calligraphy in Tehran. Ali’s family is from Bamiyan (Hazarajat region) where in 2001 the colossal sixth-century Buddha statues were destroyed. The Shahnameh (Book of Kings) was read to Ali by his grandfather and its illustrations were his first lessons in art history. Ironically, its hero Rostam became appropriated by the Taliban. In Ali’s series of miniatures in the style of Indian Mogul painting, begun in 2007, he explores and updates the motifs of the poem. Rostam turns into a horned demon, with a long beard reminiscent of those worn by Taliban fighters.
Rich in traditional and modern motifs of Eastern and Western art-historical references, Ali’s paintings tell stories about loss (of his own cultural heritage and of human values) and about how meaning shifts as words and images are perverted through ideological adoption. Ali’s recent work focuses on the relationship of Afghanistan to refugees who have relocated to his home country. Following the style of miniature painting, specifically that which uses the technique of neem rang (half-color), Ali employs traditional production methods.
Khadim Ali earned a BFA at the National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan in 2003 and has completed artist residencies in Japan through the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (2006) and Arts Initiative Tokyo (2007). Ali's work was featured in the shared Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009), Venice, Italy and in Documenta 13 (2012), Kassel, Germany. He has exhibited in group exhibitions such as: Future: Afghanistan, Gemak, The Hague, Netherlands (2008); Living Traditions, Queen’s Palace, Kabul (2008), and National Art Gallery, Islamabad, Pakistan (2009); Safavids Revisited, British Museum, London (2009); Only from the Heart Can You Touch the Sky, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne (2012); and Home Again—10 Artists Who Have Experienced Japan, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2012).
Khadim Ali’s work is held in the collections of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Australia, Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), Brisbane, Australia and the Guggenheim Museum, New York.