An Artist’s profile and work

Balal Aquil /

My practice reflects my own sense of dislocation, of not belonging to any one particular culture but instead belonging to many cultures. I explore my Pakistani-Kashmiri heritage and British nationality through images with open narratives, currently, by creating paintings of hybrid wildcats and utopian landscapes. I interweave aspects of my autobiography, fantasy and visions of the future with memories and my longing for loved ones and the lost ancestral homelands of Lahore and Kashmir.

The lines in my paintings reflect my interest in Persian-Mughal miniatures and comics. I reconnect with my heritage through the use of vibrant colours and the act of painting. I use linen as a painting surface because of its aesthetic similarity to the fabric used in Kashmiri shawls.

I begin by making small sketches, paintings and collages from personal photographs. Acting as compositional studies, these are then projected onto the canvas.


I proceed by applying multiple layers of thick impasto brush strokes to provide a rich texture, similar to that of a Persian carpet. I mix my paints like I’m cooking biryani, so to create a unique mixture of cultures and influences, of its own standing. As the painting evolves, I change parts of the work intuitively until it has reached a natural sense of completion.

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