Lived and worked in Lahore, Pakistan.
Lala Rukh studied art at Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan (MFA) and University of Chicago, USA (MFA). She taught for 30 years at Punjab University, Department of Fine Art and the National College of Arts where she set up the MA (Hons) Visual Art Program in the year 2000. After retiring from teaching, Lala Rukh devoted her time in her studio in Lahore and to activism. She was amongst the foremost feminist activist artists of South Asia. Lala Rukh’s work has been displayed in numerous exhibitions, including most recently at the Dhaka Art Summit (2018), Grey Noise, Dubai (2017), Documenta 14, Athens (2017), Drawing Room, London (2017), Yinchuan Biennial, Yinchuan (2016), Sharjah Biennial 12, Sharjah (2015).
Mirror Image series
Carbon paper and graphite
8 x 10.5 inches
The Estate of Lala Rukh and Grey Noise
Lala Rukh’s seminal work from 1992- 3, River in an Ocean in mixed media is
inspired by glimpses of the river Kabul perhaps, on a moon lit night flight to
Peshawar. This anecdote has been recounted on several occasions. It is
with this spark of inspiration began a process of reworking the surface, of
overlaying locations, times and places into one image that is at the core of
much of Lala Rukh’s artistic oeuvre. Later works such as the Mirror Image
2011 series can be seen as the most distilled paring down of the process of
overlaying images, a way of getting to the most indispensable, and arriving
at the most essential signs of image making just before it disappears
completely. An illusionist at heart, Lala Rukh’s seemingly sparse and economical means used to prepare dense intensely pitch surfaces function as
a transformative visual that creates a space for the imagination. As we
begin to look, it becomes possible to imagine the magnanimity of rivers lit
by the moon, ocean foam dancing on the sea, and we even hear music, just
about. The sparing use of light brings out the fullness of the ocean. The dark
sea becomes a metaphor for the night stretching far beyond the frame and
out of the viewer’s eye. It becomes for the mind a space for freedom, to just
be, and become, where everything is possible.
Lala Rukh was respected and well-known as an artist, feminist activist and educator, hence these works are open to a multitude of interpretative processes of analysis. Does the darkness point to political depredation, mask an incident, signify hope? In one possible reading, Mirror Image 2011 series is a meditation on the disappearance of the self into the vastness of an all-absorbing other.