Pakistani art has been confined within walls for decades far from common man's sights. But, one had to share the inner feelings with a multitude of streets through symbolic art in a country where artistic innovations are rarely appreciated. Drawing graffiti for a female artist is almost impossible in a traditionally conservative society, which also entirely misses understanding for a surreal art. But, a 17-yeard-old college student, Annie Ajaz, made it possible to give dismal walls a beautiful expression through graffiti art.
Thus, Annie becomes the first female artist in Pakistan to draw graffiti, dispelling a bizarre impression of the violence-plagued country and colouring the new image of a nation that has to go a long way.
She was only eight-year-old when she began drawing sketches to introduce her artistic emotions to the world. "I started drawing from a very young age," she said, as she would make pencil sketches of human faces, animals and landscape.
But, her journey with pencil drawing ends immediately and she had to say good-bye to the sketching after her parents told her that it was a sin to outline human faces. The restriction did not quench her aspirations, rather pushed her to adapt with new modes of expressive art.
Calling herself a `born artist', she said after quitting of pencil drawing, she transformed her talent to making tribal tattoos on a piece of paper to satisfy her desires for the creative art. "Liking for art did not stop with quitting of pencil sketches," she said that the changing of her medium - from a pencil drawing to wall painting - was a primary result of her transformation.
She believes that the artist should not lose the ability of adaptation. "It has been a stunt at the beginning," she recalled that her family was unsure whether the street atmosphere would be suitable for a teenage girl to draw graffiti. However, with the passage of time, she got accustomed to the street-world.
Her beginning of the graffiti art came from an inspiration from other male artists. "I started copying art work of others and learnt it quickly and my first work appeared last September," Annie said.
She does the graffiti with spray canes of colours to give life to her imaginations. However, the stuff needed as quality and specific sprays are not available in Pakistan, reducing her skills to depict. "In Pakistan there isn't such material from which this art can be done perfectly," she complained.
Being just in her early 20s and a college student, she thinks of her future will be quite around the art to make her skills evident to the world. Her fears also go along, "usually women are not appreciated or encouraged to do these kind of art".
However, she gave credit to her parents and family members for the job she tasked herself to achieve. "My parents fully support me and my father is always with me in every project," she said.
She chose "Mirch" as tag name to display her work. In such a short span, since September 2014, she had displayed her graffiti work at four exhibitions. Her debut work marked the `Annual Carnival of Karachi University' held on September 10 2014; second at Karachi Arts Council on December 1, 2014; third at CBM University for a street cleaning project on December 6 and the fourth at BOTS on February 13, 2015.
Annie, who was born as Qurat-ul-Ain Ajaz, aims at giving a new social and cultural look to the graffiti art to represent the beauty of her society with an urban and rural tinge. She has a Facebook page - "Tattoos made by AnNie Ajaz" to put forth her sketch work on it for the world to appreciate.