Khadim Ali


Born 1978 Quetta, Pakistan. Khadim Ali currently lives and works in Sydney, Australia. After growning up in Pakistan as a refugee, Ali was trained in classical miniature painting at the National College of Arts in Lahore and in mural painting and calligraphy in Tehran. Ali’s family is from Bamiyan (Hazarajat region) where in 2001 the colossal sixth-century Buddha statues were destroyed. The Shahnameh (Book of Kings) was read to Ali by his grandfather and its illustrations were his first lessons in art history. Ironically, its hero Rostam became appropriated by the Taliban. In Ali’s series of miniatures in the style of Indian Mogul painting, begun in 2007, he explores and updates the motifs of the poem. Rostam turns into a horned demon, with a long beard reminiscent of those worn by Taliban fighters. Rich in traditional and modern motifs of Eastern and Western art-historical references, Ali’s paintings tell stories about loss (of his own cultural heritage and of human values) and about how meaning shifts as words and images are perverted through ideological adoption.

Selected exhibitions include the Venice Biennial (2009); Safavid revisited, APT5, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane (QAGOMA, 2006); British Museum, London; No Country: Contemporary Art for South East Asia at the Guggenheim New York (2013) and Documenta (13) (2012). Ali’s work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Australian War Memorial, Art Gallery of New South Wales, QAGOMA, Brisbane, Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Recent exhibitions include ‘The Haunted Lotus’ at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (2014); ‘Transition / Evacuation’ at Milani Gallery, Brisbane (2014) and ARNDT, Singapore (2015); On Return and What Remains, Artspace, Sydney (2015); Refugees, Casula Powerhouse, Campbelltown (2016). Ali's work has also been included in The National: New Australian Art (2017), the Dhaka Art Summit (2018), and a solo exhibited titled 'Fragmented Memories' at Gertrude Contemporary. 



Michael Young, "Khadim Ali," Artist Profile, no. 40, 2017. 

Khadim Ali artist bio, Guggenheim collection.

Catalogue, the heart that has no love/pain/generosity is not a heart, 2010, South Asian Visual Arts Centre, Toronto.

Interview between Khadim Ali and Ruark Lewis, The Force of Forgetting, 2011, Lismore Regional Gallery, Australia.