My Story

The art of papercutting involves the artist cutting a whole painting from a single piece of paper resulting in a painstakingly intricate and fragile piece of art.

I have been interested in art from a young age.  As a teenager growing up in Pakistan, I would take a bus from my home in Rawalpindi to the house of Sadequain, one of Pakistan’s most respected artists, in Islamabad. Every chance I could, over the course of five years, I would sit with Sadequain and watch him create, get him tea, and learn from his artistry. It was the best training a young artist could have  received. During that time, I did pen and ink drawings, mainly of landscapes and other elements that captured the world’s beauty. I also got a degree in Computer Science. For the next 20 years, I worked in several fields from furniture manufacturing in Kuwait to jewelry design in Cyprus. More recently, I started my own information technology consulting firm, EshalSoft, and work as a software developer with companies around the world.

It was not until I moved to Australia in 2006, that I started doing paper cutting art. And that too, by accident. One day, my daughter, five years old at the time, came up to me and said, “Baba, I’m bored.” I picked up a white piece of paper, folded it several times, and started snipping corners with a scissor. When I unfolded it, it looked like a sunflower. I was amazed at the beauty that could be created with a simple piece of paper and a scissor.

For the past 12 years, I’ve created hundreds of art pieces, exhibited in galleries around the world, and won national and international awards. One honor that I’m particularly proud of is that I am the only paper cutting artist in the world that focuses on Islamic stories.

My goal with my paper cutting art is twofold: first I want to create the “WOW” factor – to make something so precise, detailed, unique and fragile, in a medium that people are not used to seeing, that viewers are completely surprised by the outcome. I think it encourages people to spend time examining the intricacy of the art, asking questions about the stories and verses that are represented, and sharing their own stories about faith and life.

Second, I want to use my art to build bridges of understanding. I focus on depicting stories that faith traditions have in common and sharing verses of the Quran that reveal the values of Islam. People become interested in learning about the stories that each piece portrays, and are excited when they find commonalities with their own faith. I hope that my art can reveal the beauty of my faith and perhaps even help dispel misperceptions about Islam.  Because for me, it’s not just about selling a piece of art, it’s about sharing something beautiful, making a connection, and leaving a positive mark on the world.

Awards and Auctions

2021
2nd prize for Art For The Love Of Muhammad (PBUH)
Islamic Arts Society, Houston, USA
https://islamicartssociety.org/art-for-the-love-of-muhammad-pbuh/

2021
Title: Commissioned Artwork by :
Australian Army Museum of Western Australia
https://armymuseumwa.com.au/

2019
Title: Kaswah Kabbah Purchased by :
International Museum of Muslim Cultures – America’s first Muslim Museum
https://muslimmuseum.org/

2019
Auctioned artworks (One – 9500 USD and the other was on silent auction)
The Citizens Foundation, Washington – USA
https://www.tcf.org.pk/

2019
Auctioned one artwork (10,000 USD )
The Concordia Forum (Canada)

2018
Winner of Open Category Award
Rockingham Arts Council, Rockingham, WA

2018
Achievement Award
Pakistan Association of Western Australia

2017
All exhibited artwork was purchased by:
Comsats University – Islamabad
The exhibition was inaugurated by Australian High Commission to Pakistan.
http://ww3.comsats.edu.pk/photogallery/obPics.aspx?Catid=111227

2015
Title: Baab Al-Iman – Purchased by:
Islamic Museum of Australia – Melbourne

2014
Highly Commended Art Award – Cossack Art Award
City of Karratha, WA

Solo Exhibitions

  • 2019 – St. John Anglican Church, Fremantle, Australia
  • 2018 – Islamic Museum of Australia, Melbourne, Australia
  • 2018 – Labyrinth Path Art Gallery , Medina, Western Australia
  • 2018 – Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, Perth, Australia
  • 2017 – COMSATS Art Gallery, Islamabad, Pakistan
  • 2017 – COMSATS Art Gallery, Islamabad, Pakistan
  • 2017 – Kwinana Library, Kwinana, Australia
  • 2015 – Rosewood Hotel, Abu Dhabi, UAE
  • 2013 – Nomad Gallery, Islamabad, Pakistan
  • 2013 – Mountford Gallery, Pemberton, Australia
  • 2012 – Kulcha Art Gallery, Fremantle, Australia
  • 2002 – Omikron Gallery, Larnaca, Cyprus
  • 2002 – Sultan Art Gallery, Kuwait City, Kuwait
  • 1987 – Rawalpindi Arts Council, Rawalpindi, Pakistan

Group Exhibitions

  • 2019 – The Concordia Forum, Blue Mountain, Toronto, Canada
  • 2017 – Rockingham Arts Council, Rockingham, Australia
  • 2016 – Muslim Life Style Show, London, United Kingdom
  • 2014 – Mandurah Art Awards, Mandurah, Australia
  • 2014 – Cossack Art Award, City of Karratha, Australia
  • 2013 – Mandurah Art Awards, Mandurah, Australia
  • 2012 – Mandurah Art Awards, Mandurah, Australia
  • 2012 – Gadfly Gallery, Perth, Australia
  • 2006 – Artisans Margaret River, Margaret River, Australia
  • 2005 – Hunderkada Art Council, Islamabad, Pakistan
  • 2003 – Omikron Gallery, Larnaca, Cyprus
  • 2002 – Lazurde Gold Jewelry Company, Saudi Arabia
  • 2000 – Islamabad Arts Council, Islamabad, Pakistan
  • 1999 – Sultan Gallery, Kuwait City, Kuwait

Workshops

Rekindling: Islamic Art – University of Western Australia – UWA
The CMSS secured a CAAR grant from the DFAT to send me to Morocco for training in traditional Islamic art.
https://www.uwa.edu.au/schools/research/centre-for-muslim-states-and-societies/islam-and-art

March, 2019
Papercutting art workshop
Lawrence Art Gallery
https://www.web.uwa.edu.au/inclusion-diversity/diversity/harmony-day

July 2018
Papercutting art workshop
Rockingham Arts Centre – Rockingham

July 2017
Papercutting art workshop
Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) – Perth

July 2017
Papercutting art workshop
COMSATS University – Islamabad

July 2017
Papercutting art workshop
South Perth Library – South Perth

July 2017
Papercutting art workshop
Rockingham Art Council – Rockingham

July 2016
Papercutting art workshop
Kwinana Council – Kwinana

Exhibitions Photo Gallery

COMSATS Arts Gallery – Islamabad, Pakistan

Darius Wells Centre, City of Kwinana, WA Australia

2016 – Abu Dhabi Art Hub, Abu Dhabi, UAE

2016 – Nomad Art Gallery, Islamabad, Pakistan

Awards Photo Gallery

2018 – Achievement Award – Pakistan Association of Western Australia

2018 – Winner of Open Category Award – Rockingham Arts Council