Waqas Khan is a minimal artist from Pakistan. His characteristic artworks are “delirious” drawings: waves, circles, spirals in pink, black and white ink. He creates compositions from virtually microscopic gestures, drawings that start as tiny, grow as precise circles and expand to become wide fields of shimmering light and shade. Waqas Khan offers two distinct ways to bring his art to fruition, from the distance to visually capture the entirety of his work, and in proximity to detect the details, those thousands of tiny dots and signs that proliferate outwardly.
He graduated at National College of Arts in Lahore. As he says in his interview with Jamile Naqui, he didn’t specialize in any specific field of art. During his studies, he did a bit of everything: printmaking, performances, music. In fact, he was not planning to continue his work as an artist after graduation. But he was unexpectedly pulled back to the artistic world by coincidence. While he kept company to a friend who was preparing an exhibition in India, he took a piece of paper and started doodling. He kept drawing, and after four days of exhausting work, he ended up with a piece of art in his hands.
I sat there with a pen and paper and drew and kept going. This is one thing that touched me so badly, so badly, you would not believe it. I was just there, just there. My vision was clear, I wanted to explore where I could go with this dot.
When Khan works on an art piece, he is completely enraptured by it. He shuts himself from the outside world, and transmits his energy to his art. In view of this inner stimulus, he uses permanent ink that cannot be erased, just as energy and inspiration in that moment cannot be erased.
I work holding my breath, exhaling my breath. While making a mark on paper I have to hold my breath, I have to hold my pen with both hands, I have to be very precise where this mark should be, then I exhale.
The sense of calm that Khan’s works emit doesn’t only derive from the aesthetic of his drawings. For Khan, the dot embodies the spiritualities that inhabit our world, he can draw it because he feels it. In Khan’s art there are elements from Sufism, the inner mystical dimension of Islam.
Sufi wisdom – It is contained in the dot – express this essence. It is like it is complete, contented, unending. No other dimension can come out of it.
Khan makes art to build new visual experiences. His productions are not direct reactions to the happenings around the world. On the contrary, his drawings are pure hypnosis. Even though the works are geometric in the form and technique, their essence is organic in nature. His drawings are obsessive nets with holes that make our minds loose. They draw observers into themselves, and lead them to forget about the present and the outside world. The purpose of his art is not only the imprint of ink on paper, but also the construction of intervals, peace and much needed silence.
Pictures: Waqas Khan, Sabrina Amrani Gallery