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In Conversation with Abeer Loan

an interview by Laureline Latour and edited by Izzy Lucas

Abeer Loan (b.1997) is a visual artist in Islamabad, Pakistan. Having spent her formative years in Bahrain, she completed her BFA in Visual arts from Pakistan and MFA from Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford. Abeer works in a variety of mediums like installation, painting, embroidery and often incorporates found objects from everyday life along with new media in her work. Her practice derives from her keen observation and critique of the culture/environment around her. Although at first her work seems concerned with the banality of everyday life, it slowly unfolds into a comment on larger issues in public and private spheres; what seems random and chaotic is the result of exhaustive research and archiving through collection.

1. Let's start at the beginning. Who are you and when did you start making art?

I was born in Pakistan and have lived between Pakistan, Bahrain, UK and now Dubai. It sounds cliché but from a very young age I wanted to be an artist, a painter rather. I look back at my early drawings now and wonder where I even got the idea from. I wasn’t great but I loved making. I joined art school for undergraduate with the intention of becoming a painter, but ended up exploring so much more and discovering so many more ways of making.

2. From looking at your portfolio and your instagram, you do more than painting, right? What are your daily inspirations for your artworks?

Painting is something that I’ve been trying to get back into recently. My practice generally has been a close study into my own life, exploring everyday situations, conversations and domestic spaces. Through these, I humorously use text and often objects to channel inner thoughts and feelings. An artwork on the surface may appear to be about the banality of everyday life, but it resonates with me on a much deeper level and is a product of exhaustive research and collection. The use of embroidery and patchwork is a prevalent aspect. The process of making is slow and therapeutic, however, almost instantly rewarding as every stitch brings me closer to the final outcome

3. What is the advice you would like to give to your younger self?

I think one of the key things I’ve learnt over time is that you just have to keep making. Even if it’s a small doodle, just do it every day. Even through creative blocks, I’ve realized it’s important that I keep doing something. It is easier said than done, but if it becomes a habit from an early stage in your practice, it helps in overcoming various creative challenges.

4. What are the main messages you want to share with your art?

I like my art to be understood by people from all generations. Perhaps not every single detail, but at least some aspect of it. The use of text and humor plays an important role in this. Most of the audience will simply enjoy what’s being said, but for some the message resonates on a more personal level and that is where I feel I’ve made something that’s successful.

5. What keeps you motivated to make art?

The everyday situations I find myself in keep me motivated to make art. From ordinary moments like mindless scrolling on Instagram to talking to my family members, there is so much happening around us at all times and I feel the need to respond to a lot of it! I can often narrow it down to appreciating these instances or critiquing them instead.
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