The Forest as a Dream – Art by Sara Riaz Khan


A solo art show by Sara Riaz Khan opened at the Canvas Art Gallery, Karachi this week. Titled ‘The Forest as a Dream’ it explores our complex and frequently fraught relationship with our environment. Canvases that suggest cosmic myths and mysteries, and glow with a magical light; inspiring us to foray into a forest fantasy.

Sara is an abstract painter with an increasingly environmental focus. She has held multiple solo exhibitions, her first at VM Art Gallery, followed by Chawkandi and Rohtas galleries. As well as participated in many group shows in Pakistan, London and in Oman where she resides. Her latest show builds on more than 15 years of artistic exploration. As a result it is both timeless and yet of the moment, encapsulating Sara’s growth as both an artist and design educationist. She has also co-authored the upcoming educational book ‘Design Thinking for Schools: Ethical Dilemmas’ (Harbord & Khan).

Sara Riaz Khan art

At the Canvas Art Gallery, Nov 19-29, 2019

According to Sara herself, this particular exhibition was inspired by the book ‘Gossip from the Forest’ by Sara Maitland. This focuses on the connections between fairy tales and the woods.

“I started to think about the forest as a universal platform for magic, transformation, freedom and potential, and its duality as a place of refuge or exile, fear or hope.”

4 Stages of Discovery

The paintings are conceived and displayed in 4 distinct stages poetically named: Approaching the Forest, Inhalation/Exhalation, Immersion and Being. The paintings of the first stage appear to merit a gentler, more organic treatment. Sara calls them the most ‘romantic’. The subtle colors meld to create a mystical world of their own; far removed from our own prosaic existence. Within the gallery space they appeared to glow with an inner life and called to me on a personal level.

Sara Riaz Khan art
Approaching the Forest 1 & III

The Inhalation/Exhalation stage is more dramatic. The colors are brighter; oranges and reds and the brush strokes bolder, more defiant.  This is an exploratory phase where the artist feels she delves into ‘the coming alive of the senses’ as well as a more physical embodiment of the experience.

Immersion II

The third stage of Immersion creates a fresh challenge for the artist. Here Sara uses texture and layers of color to create rich, multi-dimensional works. These inspire you to gaze closely, to explore and truly immerse yourself in this unique world.

Guests at the opening at Canvas Gallery, Karachi

The last stage and especially the final painting is the artist’s favourite. This monumental canvas titled ‘Being II’ hangs in solitary glory in its own room. As she tells us, this is where the journey into the forest culminates, where humanity and the environment can truly become one – by ‘Being’ the Forest.

In the present day scenario of escalating climate change, forest fires and global warming, this art show couldn’t be timelier!

Check out more works by Sara Riaz Khan.