Maria Qamar’s first solo show, titled “Fraaaanship!” runs though September 1.
If you are a desi girl and have lived in the subcontinent growing up, then chances are that sometime in your life you must have gotten an offer for Fraaandship from a fellow desi guy feeling overtly self-complacent about himself. Maria Qamar, who describes herself as a desi-pop artist, captures many such quirks and eccentricities of growing up desi through her artworks.
So, you would find themes such as overbearing South Asian aunties, desi traditions, gender inequality, the South Asian obsession with rishtas, nosy parents and much more presented in a fun, kitschy way.
Qamar, a breakout social media star, is currently having her first-ever solo show at the Richard Taittinger Gallery in New York. The exhibit, which runs from August 1 to September 2, has on display offbeat installations such as a giant lota (a mug South Asians often use in toilets) with “Shit Happens,” written in bold letters to samosa bean bag chairs to maggi noodle balloons.
If these desi reminders are not enough to engage you to go check out the unique exhibit then, well, let us inform you that stand-up comedian Hasan Minhaj has already been here. The artist posted a picture of Minhaj and her against the backdrop of her displayed work on Instagram recently.
Qamar, who was born in Karachi, Pakistan, is a first-generation Canadian belonging to a traditional South Asian family. Growing up, she experienced bullying, especially post 9/11, and her works are a depiction of many such experiences. The artist began posting her work on social media, and quickly gained a solid fan following, including the likes of actor Mindy Kaling, art critic Roberts Smith and The New York Times. With her Instagram handle @hatecopy boasting 179,000 and growing followers, Qamar can also be the called amongst the forerunners of social media influencers, who with their online communities, continue to bridge the gap between virtual and real worlds.
Her Andy Warhol-esque style, coupled with desi connotations, phrases and often words used without translation in her art, also showcases a new confident-class of first-generation immigrants who do not want to dilute their identity to “fit-in.”
Do check out the exhibit for its fun, fearless and frank representation.