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Mehreen Murtaza

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Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Birth year

Lives in

Works in


Representing galleries


“Mehreen Murtaza (°1986, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) is an artist who works in a variety of media. By manipulating the viewer to create confusion, Murtaza presents everyday objects as well as references to texts, painting and architecture. Pompous writings and Utopian constructivist designs are juxtaposed with trivial objects. Categories are subtly reversed.

Her artworks bear strong political references. The possibility or the dream of the annulment of a (historically or socially) fixed identity is a constant focal point. By parodying mass media by exaggerating certain formal aspects inherent to our contemporary society, she often creates several practically identical works, upon which thoughts that have apparently just been developed are manifested: notes are made and then crossed out again, ‘mistakes’ are repeated.

Her works are saturated with obviousness, mental inertia, clichés and bad jokes. They question the coerciveness that is derived from the more profound meaning and the superficial aesthetic appearance of an image. By experimenting with aleatoric processes, she wants to amplify the astonishment of the spectator by creating compositions or settings that generate tranquil poetic images that leave traces and balances on the edge of recognition and alienation.

Her works are an investigation of concepts such as authenticity and objectivity by using an encyclopaedic approach and quasi-scientific precision and by referencing documentaries, ‘fact-fiction’ and popular scientific equivalents. By contesting the division between the realm of memory and the realm of experience, she uses a visual vocabulary that addresses many different social and political issues. The work incorporates time as well as space – a fictional and experiential universe that only emerges bit by bit.

Her collected, altered and own works are being confronted as aesthetically resilient, thematically interrelated material for memory and projection. The possible seems true and the truth exists, but it has many faces, as Hanna Arendt cites from Franz Kafka. By merging several seemingly incompatible worlds into a new universe, she tries to approach a wide scale of subjects in a multi-layered way, likes to involve the viewer in a way that is sometimes physical and believes in the idea of function following form in a work.

She creates situations in which everyday objects are altered or detached from their natural function. By applying specific combinations and certain manipulations, different functions and/or contexts are created. With the use of appropriated materials which are borrowed from a day-to-day context, she formalizes the coincidental and emphasizes the conscious process of composition that is behind the seemingly random works. The thought processes, which are supposedly private, highly subjective and unfiltered in their references to dream worlds, are frequently revealed as assemblages.

Her works are on the one hand touchingly beautiful, on the other hand painfully attractive. Again and again, the artist leaves us orphaned with a mix of conflicting feelings and thoughts. By using an ever-growing archive of found documents to create autonomous artworks, she absorbs the tradition of remembrance art into daily practice. This personal follow-up and revival of a past tradition is important as an act of meditation.

Her works appear as dreamlike images in which fiction and reality meet, well-known tropes merge, meanings shift, past and present fuse. Time and memory always play a key role. With a conceptual approach, she makes works that can be seen as self-portraits. Sometimes they appear idiosyncratic and quirky, at other times, they seem typical by-products of American superabundance and marketing.

Her works feature coincidental, accidental and unexpected connections which make it possible to revise art history and, even better, to complement it. Combining unrelated aspects lead to surprising analogies. By applying a poetic and often metaphorical language, she reflects on the closely related subjects of archive and memory. This often results in an examination of both the human need for ‘conclusive’ stories and the question whether anecdotes ‘fictionalise’ history.

Her works directly respond to the surrounding environment and uses everyday experiences from the artist as a starting point. Often these are framed instances that would go unnoticed in their original context.

Mehreen Murtaza currently lives and works in Lahore.”


b. 1986, Riyadh, KSA
currently working and residing in Lahore, Pakistan


Beaconhouse National University (Diploma in Teaching),Lahore, Pakistan

Beaconhouse National University (BFA),Lahore, Pakistan


Gasworks: The Charles Wallace Pakistan Trust – Rangoonwala Foundation Award, London, UK

2002 – 2004
Lahore Grammar School (A-Levels), Regional Distinction in Advanced-Level Art,Lahore, Pakistan

Gold Medalist; Honors in Bachelor of Fine Art, Beaconhouse National University,Lahore, Pakistan


Crisis Apparitions,Art Dubai, represented by GREY NOISE, Dubai, UAE

Who Are You, Defenders of the Universe?
In collaboration with GREY NOISE and Experimenter, Kolkata, India


Sarai Reader 09: The Exhibition, Episode Three, curated by Shveta Sarda
Devi Art Foundation, Gurgaon, India

Permanent Record for Future Investigation, curated by Kamrooz Aram
Green Art Gallery, Dubai, UAE

Where the Wild Things Are, curated by Anca Mihulet
Temps d’Image Festival, The Paintbrush Factory, Cluj, Romania

The Impossible Black Tulip of Cartography
curated by Samantha Culp and Cher Potter,
Impakt Festival, No More Westerns, CBKU, Utrecht,The Netherlands

Under A Tinsel Sun, 3rdMoscow International Biennale for Young Art,
curated by Kathrin Becker, Moscow, Russia, Grey Noise, Dubai, UAE

136MB / Exhibition Without Objects, curated by Sadia Shirazi,
Drawing Room Gallery, Lahore, Pakistan

Indian Art Fair, represented by Experimenter, Calcutta, New Delhi, India

Step Across This Line, Asia House, Grosvenor Gallery, London, UK

Kunsthalle Gwangju, 3rd Gwangju Biennale International Curator Course,
Republic of Korea

Do It! Kunsthalle Faust and GREY NOISE, Hannover, Germany

Art Dubai, MARKER section, Dubai, UAE

Indian Art Summit, New Delhi, India

The Rising Tide – Artistic Practice within Urban Transitions,
Mohatta Palace Museum, Karachi, Pakistan

Art Dubai 2010, Dubai, UAE
Resemble Reassemble, curated by Rashid Rana,
Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi, India

Automaton Love, curated by Mehreen Murtaza, The Loft, Bombay, India

Patrons of “Oh My God! I Can Buy Art!,” GREY NOISE,
First curatorial show, Lahore, Pakistan

Four Person Show, Canvas Art Gallery, Karachi, Pakistan

Playground, Post Graduate Diploma Show,
Al-Hamra Art Gallery, Lahore, Pakistan

Through Other Eyes, Contemporary Art from South Asia: A Polylogue
Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry, UK

Parallel Lines: Contemporary Art from Lahore, Pakistan
Cartwright Hall: Bradford City Art Gallery and Museum, UK

Let’s Talk: Five Pakistani Artists in Dialogue,Jam Jar, Dubai, UAE
Inaugural show: Contemporary Indian and Pakistani Art,
FSCA Gallery, Colaba District, Mumbai, India

Degree Show: Beaconhouse National University,
Al-Hamra Cultural Center, Lahore, Pakistan

26.04.08: Grey Noise Launch, curated by Umer Butt,
Al-Hamra Cultural Center, Lahore, Pakistan

360° 60 X 60secs Traveling Video Exhibition by motiroti,
Pakistan, India, UK

Thirteen Satellites, Public Art-1, GermanCultural Center, Lahore, Pakistan

Coloring Outside The Lines, Khoj Residency, New Delhi, India


Sandarbh, The Jaipur Chapter in collaboration with
Neerja Modi Centre for Visual and Performing Arts, Jaipur, India

SITAC X (10th International Symposium on Contemporary Art Theory),
The Future: The Long Count Begins Again
Teatro Julio Castillo, Centro Cultural del Bosques s/n, Mexico City

Gasworks: The Charles Wallace Pakistan Trust-Rangoonwala Foundation Award,
London, UK

VASL: International Artists’ Lahore Residency, Lahore, Pakistan

UNESCO Photojournalism Workshop, Abbotabad, Jacobabad, Pakistan

VASL: 13 Satellites I, Lahore, Pakistan

Khoj: Coloring Outside The Lines, New Delhi, India

Recent Exhibits

Mehreen Murtaza participated in these exhibits:

Apr, 2014 They Used to Call it the Moon
Feb, 2014 Raster Raster
Aran Cravey
Nov, 2013 The Shadows Took Shape
Studio Museum in Harlem
Aug, 2013 Score for a Film
Feb, 2013 Exhibition without objects
KHOJ International Artists' Association
Apr, 2010 Who Are You, Defenders of the Universe?
Click here to see all exhibits for Mehreen Murtaza
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