Ufaq Ehsan has claimed international fame owing to her splendid work in arts. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts, in 1996, from the National College of Arts (NCA), Lahore. She has also worked at the NCA Archives for a year. Pakistani born and a recognised artist, Ufaq’s expertise is painting. As a practicing professional artist and an art teacher, she helps her students see their surroundings through a range of materials and mediums. She has pushed through boundaries of multi-cultural rhetoric with an artistic practice that re-imagines the connections between sufism, colors, music, mysticism, motherhood and cultural perspectives. Ufaq is best known for her colorful paintings. I’d like to begin by introducing her recent work displayed at the Lahore Biennale-01, a collateral event held at Ejaz Art Gallery, curated by Mariam Hanif. Ufaq explores multiple modes of storytelling from the vantage point of Lahore- a place of integration and turmoil that is still coming to terms with its underrepresented narratives. She elaborates this concept by using flowers as an important essence of landscape of Lahore in spring. Her work not only allows space for anticipation and reinterpretation, but is also giving a new light to the landscape of Lahore. One feels an instinctive affinity for the way she’s uses personal narrative to mix up with the poetic language of resurgence. The beautiful pink blossoms, the spring green leaves and their fragrance is her primary medium through which she tells her stories. She thinks of it as a soaring and empowering space that is free from constraints. Imagination is what ties all her work together. Ufaq’s artistic practice reimagines the connections between sufism, colours, music, mysticism, motherhood and cultural perspectives In a critique about her work, the famous artist Salima Hashmi said “Ufaq Ehsan is a young painter, whose commitment is evident. Her emotional travails are apparent; deeply felt and passionately recorded. Uncompromising in the way she approaches the task of image making; she does not pander to the notion of ‘illustrating’ her feelings. Line, texture and color collaborate; spread themselves across the surface – immediate and self contained. She shifts both calligraphy and organic forms, bringing them together in urgent dynamic collision. Ufaq Ehsan draws upon an intuitive understanding of the requirement of picture making- the process. The proximity of opposites is handled deftly – the outcome is lively, lyrical series of works.” Ufaq is the only Pakistani artist featured in Himmelblau Art Compass 2016 published by Art Domain Whois Publisher, Germany. She is also the only Pakistani artist to receive the certificate of excellence for outstanding quality and originality of her art work by Palm Art Award of Art Domain Group, Germany- cycle 2016. She began developing a distinct visual vocabulary as she interacted with the medium of psychiatry and received many awards including the Honorary Shield by Ganga Ram Hospital as an art therapist at the psychiatry department. She has also served as Honorary Art Consultant at Fountain House, Lahore. She has worked as an art teacher for differently-able children at Image Institute and American School of International Academics (ASIA). She renders art therapy sessions to help clients understand their problems and cope with them. Her paintings have served as a point of embarkation for therapy sessions. The discipline of art therapy is devoted to helping individuals express themselves without the need for language or logic. There is no barrier to self expression in her art therapy sessions. Ufaq is passionate about working as a social worker to give back the best to the society and community at large. Therefore, she worked in community education program as an Executive Member for NGOs such as Families in Distress (FIND) and Project for Environmental Protection, Anti Narcotics and Community Education (PEACE). She is currently working as a permanent member of Burn and Child Care Organiasation (BACCO). She worked as a volunteer organiser for some of the first major festivals held in history of modern Lahore which include the first iconic canal mela during Freedom Festival 1994, Flora Festival 1995, All Pakistan Young Performers Festival and Tree Plantation Festival. She is still contributing as an art educator through her ongoing inspirational art club classes for young children. These classes provide an excellent opportunity for children to utilise their own abilities and produce art through creative and playful processes. They become more daring and think freely and appreciate the good things while broadening their horizons. Ufaq has involved herself in various workshops including one for the differently-able children at Falah Foundation for Draw Disability – a global campaign launched by the United Nations Secretary General’s Global Education First Initiative (GEFI) in partnership with the Global Observatory for Inclusion (GLOBI) and the United Nations Global Education First Initiative Youth Advocacy Group (GEFI-YAG). She also conducted a painting workshop at NOMAD Art Gallery, Islamabad for children from community-based schools to create awareness regarding peace and tolerance through creative expression. The workshop was organised by United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). She has also executed her work in numerous exhibitions in major art galleries of Pakistan, including her solo shows to group show with art mentors like Mr. Saeed Akhtar. While talking about her source of inspiration, Ufaq said, “Spirituality, I believe is my most fundamental muse. Therefore it is no wonder that through symbolism, I choose to express my perception of all that I see. For me, the language of symbols is a threshold between the physical and the metaphysical and since my work is inspired by Sufi literature especially Rumi, hence colors and symbols play a very important role in my paintings.” She is of the opinion that colours and symbolism nearly remain constant throughout cultures and it is a universal currency which reflects our feelings, our thoughts and our memories. In my paintings, they are used in such a manner so as to create a piece of art pleasing to the eye and mind and beautiful to a degree that it obeys the cosmic order and therefore reflects universal beauty. She says that she has experimented with various mediums and surfaces and the effect of colours on human psyche. “My paintings are a journey of my soul through colours. Being surrounded by colours from the time we are born, to the moment when the eye blinks for the last time; I not only acknowledge their role in existence itself but also openly admit to utilising their essence to create my paintings, which I strongly believe, encourages healing. They heal not only my inner being but also those who I come in contact with. Creations that are heartfelt touch other hearts and souls. Painting for me is a prayer, a meditation, a whisper of hope and a smile which brightens up the spirit. I consider myself foremost a healer and through my work, I try to create a sense of joy and harmony” Ufaq Ehsan is one of the most promising and dedicated artists. She is personally involved in establishing the art forums for young artists and helping them with multiple ways of looking at reality. She inspires art enthusiasts to see their surroundings and transcribe these on different surfaces with a range of materials and mediums which have also helped her develop her artistic instincts and style of work. Championing all the aspects of symbolism, painting has always been the core of her practice. Published in Daily Times, April 6th 2018.