Khadim Ali, an artist from the Hazara community from Central Afghanistan, is currently based in Sydney. He trained in contemporary miniature painting at the prestigious National College of Art, Lahore, Pakistan, and in mural painting and calligraphy at Tehran University, Iran. In his own words: "My style of painting is very much inspired by two great schools, Indian Mughal painting and the 15th/16th century Persian artist Razai Abbasi Isfahani".
This drawing contains an image of one of the two monumental 6th century Bamiyan buddhas destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. The Buddhas were in Khadim Ali’s home province of Hazarajat. Apart from these emotive images, his work also incorporates images of a demon. In his words "The demon I paint is a fusion of my own created elements with characters from the 11th century secular book by Abul Qasim Firdausi, the 'Shahnama', written at Mahmoud Ghaznavi’s court in Ghazni, Afghanistan". The hero of the 'Shahnama' is Rustam, known to generations of Afghani children.
The gilded lettering on the work is meaningless, his commentary on how gilded words with perverted meanings have seduced more and more people in his region towards religious fundamentalism. As he says ‘The true value of words and ideas is lost to the demons’.
The lattice work surrounding the Buddhas alludes to the bamboo structure surrounding the buddhas as part of a UNESCO project to rebuild them.
This work is the start of a newer series. Some of the text on it is by his writer friend Asad Budah, the most well known writer in Afghanistan and Iran who also invented the term ‘The haunted lotus’ in reference to the Bamiyan buddhas and what they symbolise.
Asian Art Department, AGNSW, February 2011.
pencil, gouache, watercolour, gold leaf on Vasli paper
34.0 x 28.0 cm
Asian Collection Benefactors' Fund 2011
Not on display
© Khadim Ali. Courtesy Milani Gallery.
Where the work was made
Shown in 3 exhibitions
Haunted lotus: contemporary art from Kabul, The Cross Art Projects, Kings Cross, 30 Oct 2010–27 Nov 2010
One hundred flowers (2011), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 01 Sep 2011–15 Jan 2012
Conversations through the Asian collections, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Oct 2014–13 Mar 2016