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Look How Artist Hiba Schahbaz Is Coloring Feminism Through Her Nude Self-Portraits

  • IWB Post
  •  March 18, 2017


Hiba Schahbaz from Pakistan is trained in the centuries-old Indo-Persian tradition of miniature art. So, what’s unique about her work?

Hiba’s artwork involves her nude self-portraits that portray feminism. The paintings explore the history of men assuming control of women’s bodies, and how the women, in reality, want to be perceived and accepted.Hiba Schahbaz

“I think just having some acceptance has been a really big deal for me. I didn’t grow up with feminism, so I have just constantly been told that what I’m doing is really wrong. That I should hide, be ashamed of myself and my body and who I am. Having people in the art world accept that I am a female who has a body who is painting it, it really means a lot.”

Sadly, her beautiful effort is considered un-Islamic by many people in her community. Earlier, this fear would force her to paint women without faces, however, with time, she overcame it and started showing the beautiful face of the woman with almond-shaped eyes.

 “Women painting themselves naked is seen as very unholy.”

Hiba Schahbaz Hiba Schahbaz Hiba Schahbaz Hiba Schahbaz

Before she begins to paint, Hiba photographs herself in the posture of “the muse” in front of the mirror. Look at her paintings and you’ll find the muse covered in her long tresses, wielding a knife, reading a book, enjoying the beauty of Mother Nature, and coaxing a snake.

About her artwork, she says, “It creates this very unreal kind of world. I think I’ve spent like 90 percent of my life trying to accept that I’m a female and that’s OK. I was always a very emotionally closed-off person. I think painting gave me emotional contact with myself.”Hiba Schahbaz Hiba Schahbaz

Hiba is on a mission to repaint herself as Manet’s Olympia, Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus, and Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Lucretia.

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