Tania Zaidi

Welcoming or not?
Oil on Canvas

Both architectural and natural spaces are taken away from our everyday encounters within these works, and are skewed, flattened, coalesced into semi-recognizable, semi- imaginary arenas inhabited not by humans, but by animals -- birds, rodents, skunks and other mammals. These creatures disrupt familiar spaces on the painted surface and render the pictorial space a subliminal site, heavily based on emotion and affect regarding alienation, nostalgia, nihilism and displacement. 

In these works, there is a journey or decision to be made; either against or in alignment with the pre-existing social order. The bird is waiting to burst out of its battered cage, the skunk would rather dig deeper into the ground to discover where he belongs. One can be boxed in and precarious their whole lives or find a way to stability and freedom. Every species has its own method of survival- but humans and animals are constantly being shifted from homes or forced to relocate due to the unprincipled desires of the hegemonic forces.

For children who migrated to a new land at a young age, their feelings of foreignness are internalized and suppressed. This feeling is a “manifestation of the lived as visceral” and cannot be escaped no matter how far into one’s memory the old and long familiar is. This can lead to a feeling of uneasiness associated with the binary opposition that a member of the diaspora faces from both their foreign and native land.


Living between Pakistan, Egypt, Dubai, California and New York, the distinct architecture and creature iconography present in my work is an extension of my peculiar experiences within these contrasting worlds. As I would sink my teeth into one, it was time to move on to the next and so, my work embodies themes of alienation, nostalgia, innocence, pleasure, greed and dystopia through distorting space and skewing familiar imagery.

There is a charming psychology to interior design and Feng-shui and the way humans navigate through dimensions of space and objects. My works mimic stages and sets that pivot between the domestic and wild; scenes that can be unusual, inviting and uncanny depending on who’s observing. By approaching the viewer with humor and ambiguity I hope to make them look a little longer. It is important for me to create works that emulate a sense of self reflection and individual contemplation in the wake of a pop culture and media consuming era.

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