Shermeen Uqaili (b. 1980, Karachi, Pakistan) draws profound inspiration from the allure of rugs and architecture from the Islamic lands. Her art serves as a vibrant reflection of her cultural identity and a captivating exploration of Sufism's mystical depths. Her creations are a harmonious interplay of evocative words and meticulously crafted patterns, reminiscent of the ancient tools of compass and ruler. Themes in her work revolve around spirituality and the pursuit of paradise, while finding strength in holding on to her roots and heritage. Shermeen graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas in Visual Arts and is currently pursing her Masters in Fine Arts at Southern Methodist University. Several of her artworks have been exhibited in numerous Dallas-area fine art exhibitions where she has also received various awards and recognitions.
I have always been attracted to the notion of achieving paradise. The rugs and architecture from the Islamic lands have always been adorned to echo the perfection of the final abode. In my art, I seek to capture these forms while acknowledging the imperfections of our earthly existence. As I put pencil to paper and follow my instincts, I create a composition where specific patterns get emphasized while others are suppressed, giving rise to a distinctive representation of paradise.
Using multiple mediums, such as ink, gouache, and colored pencils, on various surfaces, such as hand-made paper, canvas, mat board, and Duralar paper, I transform the picture plane into a richly patterned tapestry representing paradise and our path towards it. Utilizing tools such as a compass and ruler, I craft designs drawing inspiration from the traditional arts such as Islamic Geometric Patterns, Arabesque, Persian miniature, and Tezhip.
I express my cultural heritage—rooted in Sindh, Pakistan—using the intricate Ajrak print adoring my canvases. The Ajrak is a unique pattern with recognizable colors and designs printed on scarves worn by both men and women. In my newest series, I knit together a collage of my multiple artistic influences: paradise is symbolized by various Arabesque elements of biomorphic designs such as spirals, stems, leaves, and plant forms; geometric patterns of the creation diagram represent our onward spiritual journey; imagery of water, clouds, palatial architecture, textiles, birds and flower motifs rendered in Persian miniature style; and the Tezhip art of illumination, used in the gold ornamentation, floral patterns, munhani and zencerek designs. I re-interpret these elements in a surrealistic setting that brings it all together and pays homage to my roots and culture.